Lawyers, Gender and Money: Epistemic Consensus, Closure and Conflict in the Global Financial Crisis

Politics & Gender

Author/s (editor/s):

Wesley Widmaier

Publication year:


Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Cambridge University Press

Wesley Widmaier, ‘Lawyers, Gender and Money: Epistemic Consensus, Closure and Conflict in the Global Financial Crisis’, Politics & Gender, 11, 2015: 265–90.

How did the interplay of intellectual overconfidence, gender, and professional socialization limit economic policy debate over the subprime boom and global financial crisis? In this article, I integrate historical institutionalist and feminist institutionalist insights to make sense of the interplay of gender and professional socialization in limiting the scope for pre-crisis regulation and post-crisis reform. First, drawing on historical institutionalist perspectives, I highlight the scope for inefficiency in the use of information, arguing that policy success over time can engender tendencies to misplace confidence and intellectual closure. Secondly, drawing on feminist institutionalist perspectives, I stress the role of professional and gender socialization in enabling agents to resist such inefficiencies and so limit the scope for intellectual closure. In empirical terms, I then advance three case studies addressing the roles of Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Brooksley Born, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Sheila Bair, and Troubled Asset Relief Program Congressional Oversight Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren in challenging the pre-crisis deregulatory consensus. In the conclusion, I address theoretical and policy implications, stressing the social dynamics that may spur women toward increased professional and intellectual risk taking.

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