IMF, World Bank chiefs share wisdom of women empowerment

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank Group Interim President Kristalina Georgieva have encouraged female economists to break the glass ceiling, highlighting the importance of discipline, detail-orientation and dare.

The two trail blazers held a one-on-one conversation on Friday at the IMF headquarter in Washington D.C. on the International Women's Day, themed on "Empowering a New Generation."

When asked how the experience of being a synchronized swimmer impacted her, Lagarde said it taught her resilience, teamwork, and how to deal with losing.

"Even if you lag behind at the end of the ranking, you have to just grit your teeth and work hard, know that there is always another step that you can progress," Lagarde said. "You don't win all the time, you have to learn how to lose, and then bring yourself together."

"One of the things resonate very strongly is the sense of discipline," Georgieva said. "Success can't be achieved without discipline."

Georgieva said as a female economist, being quite "numerical" helps. "Because when you go, you make your rational arguments, based on facts, not on fictions."

Noting that there is clearly a minority issue in the economics field, Lagarde said that "not enough attention is being paid to the work that women economists do, to the researches that they produced, to the enormous talent and energy that they display."

The IMF chief encouraged female economists to "gang up together" and found allies and friends, "not necessarily women," to achieve their aspirations.

The two also talked about some of the biggest risks they took in their early life. Georgieva recalled the year 1990, when she got the invitation to be a visiting professor at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, and she decided to leave her home country Bulgaria and went to the other side of the world.

"In my professional life, I have been very fortunate to dare; to dare is a very important thing," Georgieva said. "When people tell you that can't be done, you dare to say, well, why not?"

Lagarde said learning to overcome that fear and gain confidence is critically important. "Take a deep breath, tighten the muscle, think about something really nice, and just charge on, because you can do it."

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