It's still a man's world at the Davos forum

Women may be smashing glass ceilings on Wall Street, but a walk down the crowded corridors of the World Economic Forum would have you fooled.

Organisers say female delegates make up 17% of the hundreds of policymakers and business leaders that gathered in the Alpine resort of Davos this week—less than one in five.

“That’s their highest ever number, but 17% of delegates being women is not representative at all,” Cherie Booth, a prominent lawyer and wife of former UK prime minister Tony Blair, told a breakfast meeting this week.

“This is not just a box that you tick.”

Check the lists of high-profile delegates picked to join the keenly followed panel debates on the year’s hot issues—the economy, sovereign wealth funds, financial risk—and you will struggle to find more than a handful of women.

Only Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi and television reporter Maria Bartiromo made it onto the key economic panels—and only two of those, of course, as panellists.

The forum is not entirely without its heavyweight female delegates; US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Philippines President Gloria Arroyo made public appearances.

Most of the women in this Swiss resort are still the carefully groomed and fur-clad wives of the paying participants. Not everyone, though, is disappointed.

“Men everywhere, seas and seas,” actress Emma Thompson gushed on receiving an award at the forum.
“It’s been bliss!” - Reuters

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