September, 2019

Where are all the female economists in Australia?

Federal Reserve board chairwoman Janet Yellen. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde. Photo: JOSE LUIS MAGANA
Nanjing Night Net

In my job as a financial journalist, I spend a lot of time with blokes.

I interview blokes. I go to lunch with blokes. I listen to blokes deliver budgets. I read statements by blokes on interest rates. I write up research by blokes. I compete with blokes to write the best economics columns. Which is odd.

Economics – more than any other discipline – puts high value on the importance of individual choice, free markets, fierce competition and efficient outcomes.

The dearth of senior female economists in Australia doesn’t fit the theory.

As gender barriers are torn down in other industries, economics remains a distinctly masculine pursuit.

If Australia has ever had a female chief economist of one of the big four banks, I can’t recall. Of the 49 distinguished academic economists on the Economic Society of Australia and Monash Business School’s national panel, just six are women.

We’ve certainly never had a female federal Treasurer. A woman has never headed the federal Treasury department – nor is she likely to anytime soon after the clear out of senior women that occurred after Tony Abbott’s dismissal of former Secretary Martin Parkinson, who was a champion of women and now heads the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Women are inching up the tree at the Reserve Bank, with Luci Ellis, Michelle Bullock and Alexandra Heath in senior positions. But I suspect we’re still at least another Reserve Bank governor appointment away before a woman is seriously considered as a leading candidate to pull the monetary policy strings.

There’s greater progress overseas.

The most powerful financial job in the world – head of the US Federal Reserve – is now performed by a female economist, Janet Yellen. Although most news stories about her appointment (including, mea culpa, my own) couldn’t help but mention she’s married to the famous economist George Akerlof.

The head of the International Monetary Fund also wears a skirt. Under the tenure of Christine Lagarde, the IMF executive board has finally begun considering the idea of gender diversity. Of the 24 positions, just one  is occupied by a woman: Chileshe Kapwepwe from Zambia.

Together with Australia’s representative on the IMF board, Barry Sterland, she has been leading a push to promote women.

To Sterland, the economics of promoting women is simple.

“Diverse boards are more effective because they have access to more talent. Talent is evenly distributed among men and women, hence there is talent in our member countries that we are missing out. This is about ensuring the widest range of talent to make for a better board.”

And there’s the crux: talent is evenly distributed.

Statistically speaking, that means that for every top man, there is an equally talented top woman. For every second best man, a second best woman. So if you have a team comprising the four top men, your team is, by a matter of statistically certainty, not as strong if you had the two top men and the two top women.

The maths is simple, which is why most of the male economists I know are unabashed feminists.

So why aren’t there more senior female economists in Australia?

A large part is just the usual toxic combination of unconscious bias, old boys networks, women’s traditional role of being responsible for child rearing responsibilities etc.

When it comes to why more women aren’t quoted more often in the media, I can speak with more authority.

First of all, there are definitely fewer of them.

But it’s not just that. In my experience, male economists are also more likely to have honed their “dial a quote” skills, so valued by journalists. Quotable economists need to be quick on the draw and confident in their assertions. Male economists are, in my experience, more likely to feel very well informed across a broader range of topics. They’re also more prepared to stick their neck out with an opinion, even if they’re not entirely across all the details.

On a recent visit to Australia, American economist Betsey Stevenson, a former adviser to Barack Obama, made the excellent point that women – herself included – tend to focus on the “confidence interval” surrounding their findings and not hammer home their “point estimate” as hard as men

But over-confidence is not genetic: it’s a skill that can be easily learned and must be, I’d argue, for female economists to succeed.

At a retreat in the McLaren Vale  a few months ago, the Economics Society fo Australia organised for some of Australia’s most senior female academics economists – Alison Booth (ANU), Deborah Cobb-Clark (University of Sydney) and Lisa Cameron (Monash) – to mentor and network with some of most talented upcoming female economists.

As a result, a new Australian Women in Economics Network is being established. Such networks are common in other male-dominated disciplines such as maths, science and engineering.

The goal is to promote the talents of female economists across the private sector, academia, education and government.

A registry of female economists will be established to help media and other institutions to identify female talent.

Any female economists wishing to join should look up the Facebook public group “Women in Economics Australia”, which already has about 150 members, or contact Leonora Risse at RMIT or Danielle Wood at the Grattan Institute.

So ladies, brush up your dial-a-quotes and focus on your point estimate. And expect my call.

Ross Gittins is on leave.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Wallabies future lies with the NRC, not the NRL

Not Wallabies quality: The Kangaroos forward pack wouldn’t displace any current Wallaby. Photo: Paul Kane Lost opportunity: Cameron Smith could have been the Wallabies long-term halfback in a different reality. Photo: Paul Kane
Nanjing Night Net

Whenever I watch the Kangaroos, as I did on Saturday night, I’m reminded of one of many favourite yarns out of New Zealand.

It concerns a talented young player at Hamiltons Boys’ High School in New Zealand, a noted rugby nursery that produced Henry Speight, Sean Maitland and Tawera Kerr-Barlow, among others.

This kid was gifted. All the Super Rugby teams were interested but there was a problem. He was playing up off the field, a bit of a tearaway.

Exasperated, his school rugby coaches gave him a final warning – a threat, really.

“Look son, if you don’t sort yourself out we’re going to send you to the Warriors.”

It’s probably apocryphal, but nonetheless it gives you a good indication of the pecking order in New Zealand. By and large, the best gravitate towards the All Blacks. So when the Kangaroos struggle against the Kiwis, as they have in recent years, it gives me pause to consider their true quality, despite the oft-repeated line that all the Wallabies need is more league players.

When you look at the Kangaroos forward pack, the idea that many – or any – could go into the Wallabies and provide an instant lift just isn’t realistic. The body shapes and technical requirements for tight five rugby forwards and No.7s immediately rule out the entire Kangaroos pack. The only positions that you could argue might work for a code swapper are No.6 and No.8.

The Kangaroos pack that played in Perth on Saturday included Matt Scott, Shannon Boyd, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, David Klemmer, Tyson Frizell and Sam Thaiday – they are all good, tough players but what would do with them? Athletically, there would be question marks about some of them going the 80. My pick of that bunch are Gillett and Cordner, but if you are comparing them with Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino, or the likes of Billy Vunipola, Toby Faletau and Maro Itoje, I’m far from convinced they would stand out in that company.

As for the backs, well let’s get the obvious out of the way. If, 10 years ago, rugby could have picked up Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston, then it would have won the lottery.

Smith, frankly, is incredible. He would have made an outstanding halfback and lifted the whole Wallabies group over the past decade. But that’s living in an alternative reality. They are league men and at this stage of their careers would be terrible value for rugby. Of the younger Kangaroos backs, I’d pass on every one.

So where does the Wallabies’ future lie? In developing its own and, more broadly thinking, developing the competitions that excite players. With these two things in mind, the addition of a Fijian team to the NRC is a credit to all involved.

The involvement of World Rugby is key, too. First, it indicates that the ARU can be a player again, an organisation that gets things done. And second, there are longer-term implications.

Sure the ARU might be reticent about over-selling the benefits, but this looks – in part – like a clever, market-driven strategy to tackle the question of athletes being lost to Europe’s clubs.

Stronger: The Fijian team in the NRC will greatly improve the standard of competition. Photo: Getty Images

You can’t stop players from seeking overseas contracts with regulation. It is punitive and it doesn’t work. For example, World Rugby might listen to arguments about the three-year residency period for eligibility being extended to five years, but it also knows the clubs are already ahead of that game. The French have already started recruiting players younger. Five years won’t stop the flow, it’ll just encourage more cradle-snatching.

What might stop it, however, is giving the Pacific Island players an opportunity to earn a living by doing what they love closer to the crucial support networks that are crucial for young players. This is why I hope, with every fibre in my body, that this Fiji NRC team is a success.

In addition, Australia knows that any competition – NRC today, possibly Super Rugby tomorrow – that has a Fijian team in it will be enhanced.

The NRC is already a better competition this year than last. It is also being nourished by the attitude towards it shown by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika – picking Tolu Latu based on NRC form was a great message.

The Wallabies’ future is developing their own, and that’s already begun.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Novak Djokovic to focus on life off court as Andy Murray threatens for No.1 ranking

Novak Djokovic plans to celebrate his son Stefan’s second birthday on Friday and focus on his life off the court rather than tweak his late-season schedule to fortify his threatened No.1 ranking against Andy Murray’s year-end assault.
Nanjing Night Net

Despite the Serb’s recent form issues manifesting in a 6-4, 6-4 semi-final loss at the Shanghai Masters to Spanish 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, Djokovic said he had no plans to play again before the Paris Masters, starting on October 31.

Murray, who was to face Bautista Agut in his career-best 10th final of the season on Sunday night, is playing an additional tournament in Vienna before Paris. The world’s top two are scheduled to finish at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, where Djokovic is the defending champion.

While a finals victory in Shanghai would leave Murray just 1190 points behind Djokovic, the world No.2 insists the year-end summit is not a realistic ambition. He is being conservative. It still can be done.

“My goal is not to try and reach No.1 this year,” Murray said. “I’d have to win pretty much every match between now and the end of the year. And Novak would not have to win hardly any. So it’s not in my hands.

“I want to try and get there, but I don’t think doing that by the end of this year is that realistic. So I just want to try and finish this year as strong as I can. Maybe give myself a chance at doing it the early part of next year.”

After a dominant start to the year, Djokovic has won just one title – the Toronto Masters – since the emotional completion of his career grand slam at the French Open in June. After being eliminated in the third round at Wimbledon, he was beaten in his Rio Olympics opener and lost to Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final.

His early departure from China came after he ripped a shirt, smashed a racquet and clashed with chair umpire Carlos Bernades. Djokovic’s nerves fraying just as his usually-immaculate game recently has.

“There are definitely things that I need to [regain] kind of from the emotional/mental point of view,” Djokovic said. “So, yeah, I guess I’m focusing on that more, so it’s a transition somewhere in between. Maybe just exhausted by the amount of matches I have had in the last 15 to 20 months. So maybe all in all that’s the cause of me feeling this way.

“But I had to experience sooner or later this. I knew I could not go on playing on highest level for so many years all the time, you know, but it’s good to experience this so I can hopefully get better in the period to come.”

Asked about Djokovic’s difficulties, Murray said it was not his place to offer advice to his long-time rival and friend, but added: “I do think that after everything he’s achieved and the kind of dominance that he’s had, it takes so much effort and work to be making finals almost every single week for two years.

“I mean, it’s a really, really hard thing to do. And it’s maybe normal if he’s mentally a little bit tired or trying to find the next thing for him to achieve after what he did at the French Open, as well.

“So I do think it’s pretty normal, and I’m sure he will get it back. But it’s just normal to have a period after what he’s done the last few years where he’s maybe not as dominant as he was.”

Among the more telling comments of the week was one from Bautista Agut, who was 0-5 against Djokovic before their semi-final, and had taken just two sets from the Serb in a history dating back to 2013.

“I’m so happy I could beat him, no?” said the Masters 1000 finals debutant. “The first time I remember I played him I thought he was from another planet, and now I think I’m closer to him.”

Many players will be sharing that sentiment. In a changing tennis landscape, Djokovic may be clinging to the mountain-top, but the pack, headed by Murray, is closing. Fast.

Linda Pearce is a guest of the Shanghai Rolex Masters

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sally Faulkner to reveal story behind botched child recovery attempt in Lebanon

Sally Faulkner recalls the moment her ex-husband, Ali Elamine, broke his promise to return their children to Australia after a holiday in Lebanon. Photo: Australian StoryBrisbane mother Sally Faulkner has described the moment she found out her children were not coming back to Brisbane after what was meant to be a two-week holiday in Lebanon with their father.
Nanjing Night Net

It was a moment that would eventually lead to the botched attempt to recover her children with a 60 Minutes crew in tow, which captured the attention of both nations.

Reported as a kidnapping by Lebanese media outlets and a botched recovery attempt by Australian media outlets, it started after a Skype call between Ms Faulkner and the children’s father Ali Elamine.

“When he answered the Skype call, I could just see his face and I said to him ‘what’s wrong’ and he looked at me and he said ‘plans have changed’ and that’s when every part of me just wanted to fall apart,” Ms Faulkner said

“I said ‘what do you mean?’ I didn’t quite believe it and he said ‘plans have changed Sal, the kids aren’t coming home'”

It was the recovery attempt that saw Channel Nine’s 60 minutes crew, including presenter Tara Brown, detained in Lebanon.

Today, seven months on, the children remain in Lebanon with their father, Ali Elamine, while Ms Faulkner has since penned a book All for My Children, due to be released in November.

In an interview with ABC’s Australian Story to air on Monday, Ms Faulkner says she signed an agreement prior to the children’s trip that had been written by Mr Elamine and which she anticipated would give the children the best outcome.

“We were able to co-parent, we sat down together and did a parenting agreement, just written on paper signed and dated about what we expected and the kind of things we wanted from each other in terms of the children,” Mrs Faulkner said.

“We were making the best of what we could given we lived in two different countries.”

An excerpt of the informal agreement written by Mr Elamine reads: “I also expect our children to maintain a healthy relationship with the Australian side of the family as well as their Lebanese one by visiting my parents and their uncles and cousins once a year.”

The interview also sees Ms Faulkner detail the few months in the lead up to the ‘child recovery attempt’.

“Ali, he said to me ‘is it possible I take them back to my family to spend some time, just as a holiday’,”  she said.

“And so I drove them to the airport, I thought this is great, the kids are going to have the best of both worlds.

“They’re going to have Lebanon, they’re going to know that culture, I thought we were on the same page, we’re on a good thing, we we’re able to co-parent.

“I said to him, I said ‘Ali promise me, look me in the eye and promise me that you will bring them back…  he said we’ll see you in two weeks.

“Then he put his arms out and give me a hug and goes ‘you’re a good mum Sal, you’re a good mum’ he goes ‘they’ll be all right with me’ and then I said ‘I trust you’.”

For independent news coverage, be sure to follow our Facebook feed.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Talking weeds and birds with Landcare

Hi Landcarers, Central West Lachlan Landcare is thrilled to welcome Paul Sullivan to share his knowledge and expertise on weed management.
Nanjing Night Net

Paul Sullivan has worked for 38 years on weed biological and integrated control for NSW DPI, so brings with him a wealth of knowledge.

Whilst Paul has played a large part in introducing and distributing many of the species that we are now seeing the benefits from in terms of reduction, he also has a sound knowledge of chemical and other alternative treatments for many of the species that are still providing significant problems in our area.

Paul has researched, developed and coordinated many projects for terrestrials Paterson’s curse, prickly pears (common, tiger and tree pear), broom weeds (English and Cape), blue heliotrope, horehound, thistles (nodding and Scotch), dock, blackberry, bridal creeper, gorse and St John’s Wort and aquatics salvinia, water hyacinth and alligator weed.

Healthy Patterson’s Curse: One of the plants Paul Sullivan will be talking about on Wednesday.

He is also actively involved in educating, training and assessment of those involved in natural resource management.

The Weeds Management Workshop runs between 1pm – 3pm on Wednesday,October 19 at the Central West Lachlan Landcare Office at Kelly Reserve in Parkes.

I will pop the kettle on for a post lunch cuppa and snack (please no post-lunch napping). Please RSVP to me on 02 6862 4914 or [email protected]南京夜网

As I mentioned last week, we are very excited to once again be involved in activities during the Aussie Backyard Bird Count betweenOctober 17-23.

This is a chance for us all to have an extra focus on our birdlife and the environment that they live in.

On Tuesday, October 18 we will be holding our Forbes Kids Bird Walk at the Bird Hide at Gum Swamp, again, commencing at 4pm with a talk on the Painted Snipe Project that is being undertaken at the Swamp to increase bird habitat.

Please note that a parent or caregiver must be present with children attending any of these walks.

If possible, it would be good for kids (and adults) to wear long pants, a hat, sunscreen and binoculars if you can.

I will bring a few basic binoculars with me.

Please RSVP to me on 6862 4914, text me on 0418 611 053 or email [email protected]南京夜网 if you are attending any of these activities.

As usual, links to items in this article are available on facebook or on our website at 梧桐夜网centralwestlachlanlandcare.org

Until next week, happy Landcaring!

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.