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August 19, 2017

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Ex-boss boosted women's lot in IMF

WASHINGTON -- Women made solid gains in top positions of responsibility in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under former chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is facing sexual assault charges in New York, an IMF report showed Friday.

Between 2007 and 2010, when Strauss-Kahn was IMF managing director, the share of women in senior management jobs moved from 15.6 percent to 21.5 percent — still low, but better than the target of 20 percent for 2010, the report showed.

While the married Strauss-Kahn, a reputed womanizer, had one much-criticized affair with an IMF economist since taking the helm of the institution in November 2007, statistics showed that his oversight benefited them generally, and economists specifically.

Targeted recruitment of professional women — managers, economists, lawyers, and others — was initiated in 1995 but accelerated in the Strauss-Kahn years, according to the Fund's "Diversity Annual Report."

Female economists grew from less than 15 percent to 25 percent of the total economist staff during the period, adding nearly 3 percentage points during the Strauss-Kahn years.

But at a secondary level of "specialized career streams" — the non-economist professionals — where women have long dominated, there was a decline in their share, albeit to just below two-thirds.

The study lauded the gains made.

However, it said: "Overall, the Fund's share of women, especially at the professional and managerial grades, is lower than that of other international organizations" like the World Bank.

Strauss-Kahn resigned his post on May 18 following his arrest for allegedly trying to rape a hotel chambermaid, which he denies.

After his arrest, a New York Times article characterized the Fund as a place of "Men on Prowl and Women on Guard", where "alpha male economists" freely harass female staffers who "avoid wearing skirts for fear of attracting unwanted attention."

But 679 women employees replied in a letter that they were insulted by the depiction.

"We are proud of a workplace that is both professionally challenging and respectful of its staff," they said.

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