May 24th, 2011
04:52 AM GMT
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(CNN) – As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepares to replace its disgraced former managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, e-mails obtained exclusively by CNN offer a unique insight into the mood among staff. (See below)

While Strauss-Kahn was busy penning a heartfelt goodbye letter sent out on Sunday, documents reveal some of the fund's female employees had already been calling for change: namely, for a woman to run the IMF.

Strauss-Kahn resigned last week as head of the fund in the face of sexual assault charges. In a note to staff, obtained by CNN, the economist said he is confident of being exonerated of accusations that he attacked a hotel maid in New York, but he could not "accept that the Fund - and you dear colleagues - should in any way have to share my own personal nightmare. So, I had to go."

The fund is scheduled to begin accepting nominations for his replacement, with a battle shaping up between Europe and the developing world. The United Kingdom said over the weekend it would back French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the position; a move that will likely appeal to women at staff at the IMF, who complained in e-mails obtained by CNN of the male culture at the global economic organization.

The notes among numerous female workers at the IMF were exchanged late last week in response to a New York Times article entitled "At IMF, Men on Prowl and Women on Guard."

The New York Times published an open letter signed by 676 female IMF workers protesting the piece, yet internal communications paint a different picture - with some of the women at the fund bemoaning a "male dominated workplace," where "gender stats speak for themselves."

One female worker asks whether the IMF would be better off with a woman in charge "to end such a negative impression." The writer tells colleagues, "we now have a good opportunity to voice it out."

Another e-mail reads it "would be naïve to pretend that there is no glass ceiling."

Responding to the leaked e-mails, IMF spokesman Bill Murray told CNN that the fund "is not satisfied with the level of diversity at senior management level and is working to improve this."

On Monday, the IMF told staff it now aims to increase the number of women in senior roles by a further 10% –to 30%– by 2014.

The fund said Friday that it aims to complete the selection process by June 30.

Strauss-Kahn was accused of trying to rape a maid last week in his suite at the Sofitel hotel in New York on May 14, charges he denies.

The ex-IMF chief was released from Rikers Island jail on Friday and is staying with his wife, Anne Sinclair. Before his arrest, he was considered a likely candidate for president of France.

Below is a series of electronic correspondence circulated among female IMF staff on the subject last week.

Names and email addresses have been removed.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 9:10 AM


Subject: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard

This is not good. From the NYT. In case you haven't seen it.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 9:26 AM


Subject: Re: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard

Agree. This is as offensive for us as for our male colleagues. While the fund might not be perfect and progress can still be made in terms of diversity I feel outraged by the depiction of a sex crazed place dominated by alpha males and where women are afraid to wear skirts. (Almost funny). This is not the institution where I am happy to work. I hope management and/or EXR will react strongly.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 9:33 AM


Subject: RE: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard

Also agree. If the perception that the article is way off were widely shared among our group (which of course it may well not be), a reaction from the WEN itself could be quite powerful.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 9:35 AM


Subject: RE: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard

May be, the only way to put an end to such a negative image of our institution is to get a female MD? I believe, if WEN agreed on such preference, we now have a good opportunity to voice it out.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 9:36 AM


Subject: RE: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard: ACTION UNDERWAY

Just to let you know that we, including FDMD, are on this and formulating a response. Great to have this initial reaction. We will also be in touch with SAC, as an institutional view from staff that rejects this picture would be very helpful.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 09:37 AM


Subject: RE: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard

THANKS. I would prefer that we focus on what we know and can quickly agree on. The issue of MD succession is one for shareholders rather than staff_ of course we all have personal views and preferences, but first and foremost need to think of ourselves at work as staff members.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 09:49 AM


Subject: RE: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard: ACTION UNDERWAY

We can probably agree that people are not "afraid" to wear skirts, that we are all proud to work here, and that we have many initiatives to improve gender diversity and inclusiveness at the Fund. But we should avoid going to an extreme and outright dismissing the remote possibility that this is a male dominated place. Our feeble stats on gender diversity speak for themselves, so does the pushback from colleagues to initiatives to improve it. People who worked on this issue here do think there is room for improving the gender culture at the Fund, and being too dismissive towards this article can weaken further work along this line. Our external response should be combined with an internal effort to communicate that we are seen as being behind the curve.


Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 09:56 AM


Subject: Re: At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard: ACTION UNDERWAY

Of course the Fund is male dominated. (Still:) ). In spite of progress there is a big gender gap at the B level and it would be naïve to pretend that there is no glass ceiling. But it is neither the cowboy macho_dominated "women are for grabs" atmosphere depicted in the article. And I think it is important that as women we stand ready to correct that.

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Rose

    Sad to say, but this situación is far from exclusive to the IMF. Most of us just shut up and keep moving along in hopes that we could move to the next level while we see our male colleges sweep by, seeingly effortlessly. That's reality in many workplaces, and not much effort is made to change that.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  2. remotedude

    this is only 1 email traffic doesn't prove nothing. the fact that DSK had earlier zipper-control issues and the fact that all charges were dismissed as "he did not violate IMF's internal regulations" prove there is something definitely wrong with this institution.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  3. Kevin

    How many women Ph.D's in monetary economics (from top universities) with experience in central banks or ministries of finance were there 20 years ago in the countries from which the IMF recruits staff? Of those how many could leave their countries to work in the US? On that basis women are over represented in the higher levels of the Fund. The reality is that yes there is discrimination regarding women at the IMF but it is in their favor.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  4. Andrew

    Dear female staffers,
    Instead of blaming the failed(?) male image(causing troubles because they are sexually active or unstable) to suggest
    that a female is better suited for the IMF lead position, why not prove that you are indeed capable? While Strauss-Kahn
    trial is a negative publicity for IMF, it is not the time to generalize the on one man's legal problems. Your institution is no
    different than any other high-end corporation which are run by similar people. People with money are power are always
    going to try thing extra ordinary, er, extra-martial, that is. Men or women. This is the issue, not male, female. Get it!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  5. wot?

    Right, because everybody knows that men never have to work for anything, ever. (sarcasm)

    But nobody mentions how discriminating FEMALE bosses can be towards men. Lets face facts, everybody on earth is programmed/wired/made/evolved (trying to cover all bases here) to be a little discriminating once and a while. And while there are some A-holes who can make men look bad, assuming that every man behaves/gets treated this way is sexist in itself.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  6. April

    How about you just hire the right PERSON. This is so annoying... if the best candidate is female then awesome, but if it's a male then why hire a weaker candidate just because she's female. What self respecting woman would even WANT that. If I get a job, I want it to be because I've earned it.

    May 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  7. Rob

    Better a White Euro Woman than a Man from outside Western Europe/America. America needs to get ours before everyone else, don't forget it....

    May 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  8. icons pack

    It is remarkable, it is very valuable piece

    November 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm |

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