Financial Crises and the Selection and Survival of Women Finance Ministers


Women remain underrepresented in cabinets, especially in high-prestige, “masculine” portfolios. Still, a growing number of states have appointed women to the finance ministry—a powerful position typically reserved for men. Drawing on the “glass cliff” phenomenon, we examine the relationship between financial crises and women’s ascension to, and survival in, this post. With an original dataset on appointments to finance ministries worldwide (1972–2017), we show that women are more likely to first come to power during a banking crisis. These results also hold for currency and inflation crises and even when accounting for the political and economic conditions that might otherwise explain this relationship. Subsequent examination of almost 3,000 finance ministers’ tenures shows that, once in office, crises shorten men’s (but not women’s) time in the post. Together, these results suggest that women can sometimes seize on crises as opportunities to access traditionally male-dominated positions.

American Political Science Review