The International Monetary Fund or IMF, has just taken a path-breaking decision. The international organization has for the first time, appointed a woman in one of its most revered top positions – as a chief economist! The lucky one is Indian-origin Harvard University professor and economist Gita Gopinath, who with this new role, has broken all norms surrounding eligibility of women in top world organizations. Prior to IMF, only OECD and World Bank had a woman in the top economic roles.
So who is economist Gita Gopinath, the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and of Economics at Harvard University? Let’s get to know her better!
Let’s begin with her background!
Ms. Gopinath is a US citizen and an overseas citizen of India. Born on December 8, 1971, the 46-year old grew up in India. She earned a BA from Lady Shri Ram College for Women (1992), and a Masters in economics from Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (1994), before going abroad for further studies.
Her personal life:
Gita was born in Mysuru, Karnataka, to TV Gopinath and VC Vijayalakshmi. She’s married to Iqbal Dhaliwal, the Executive Director of J-PAL (The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab). Her husband tweeted this after the announcement:
A good start to the week! #gitagopinath
"Ms. Gopinath, one of the leading scholars in exchange rates, sovereign debt and capital flows, will be the first woman to lead the IMF’s economic research department." https://t.co/fiooKCpAfe
— Iqbal Dhaliwal (@iqbaldhali) October 1, 2018
Her educational background:
After receiving her BA and MA from India, she completed her M.A. from the University of Washington (1996) and in 2001, she completed her Ph.D. from Princeton University.
Her best skill set:
Economist Gita Gopinath is best known for highlighting and challenging received wisdom on flexible exchange rates. She strongly promotes the benefits of flexibility in allowing a country to have its own monetary policy while accepting that some benefits are overstated.
Her current role:
She’s not only a professor at Harvard University, but she is also a co-editor of the top-rated American Economic Review and of the Handbook of International Economics along with Kenneth Rogoff, a noted former IMF chief economist.
The Harvard professor is known for her research which focuses primarily on international finance and macroeconomics. The coveted University tweeted this on Gita’s proud moment:
Congratulations, Professor Gita Gopinath! https://t.co/SlUuk5aBMu
— Harvard University (@Harvard) October 1, 2018
Her career highlights:
She served as a member of the “eminent persons advisory group” on G20 matters for India’s finance ministry, according to the Harvard University website. She was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business and served as an Economic advisor to the Kerela govt.
Her fellow economists say:
Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, complimented and congratulated Gita on her new role via Twitter:
Gita Gopinath is an outstanding economist, with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership, and extensive international experience. I am delighted to name such a talented figure as the IMF’s Chief Economist. https://t.co/meElAmfLX6
— Christine Lagarde (@Lagarde) October 1, 2018
Her special achievements:
2011: Chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
2014: Named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the IMF.
2017: Received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Washington.
2018: Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Her predecessor say:
Economist Gita Gopinath replaces outgoing chief economist Maury Obstfeld, who will retire in December, according to IMF. The institution announced Gita’s recruitment via Twitter:
IMF Managing Director Christine @Lagarde appoints Harvard’s Gita Gopinath as IMF Chief Economist, replacing Maury Obstfeld who will retire from IMF in December. https://t.co/M6UV5qH714 pic.twitter.com/k16ztkYIwi
— IMF (@IMFNews) October 1, 2018
Her personal thoughts:
Ms. Gopinath always maintained that she never felt discriminated against as a woman in economics. This goes as saying even though she is one of a handful of female tenured professors in the department at Harvard!
Finally, Gita Gopinath is expected to take over as the IMF’s chief economist in December 2018.