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Would Women Leaders Have Prevented the Global Financial Crisis? Implications for Teaching about Gender, Behavior, and Economics

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Would having more women in leadership have prevented the financial crisis?

This question may arise in courses on Gender and Economics, Money and Financial Institutions, Pluralist Economics, or Behavioral Economics, and offers an important teaching moment. The first part of this essay argues that while some behavioral research seems to support an exaggerated “difference” view, non-simplistic behavioral research debunks this and instead reveals the immense unconscious power of stereotyping. The second part of this essay argues that the more urgently needed gender analysis of the financial industry is not concerned with (presumed) “differences” by sex, but rather with the role of gender biases in the social construction of markets. Specific examples and tools that can be used when teaching about difference, similarity, and markets are discussed throughout.