How do you make it in a man’s world?
If women want to succeed, they need to be thick-skinned – aggressively determined and impervious to criticism. Christine Lagarde said: “I regret to say that the crocodile skin is unfortunately a sine qua non for a period of time.” Only when a woman is established, the head of the International Monetary Fund continued “she can take off the crocodile skin and become a normal human being, without having to shield against horrible attacks and below the belt punches.”
When Christine Lagarde took to the stage at the Women in the World Summit in New York, one of the first questions put to her was whether she thought more women could make it to the top.
Niall Ferguson, the Harvard professor who was interviewing Lagarde asked: “You said recently in an interview that for a woman to get to the top, she needed ‘skin as thick as an old crocodile’. I don’t find that very encouraging. Can you give the women in this audience some hope that you can get to the top without crocodile skin?”
It’s not the first time Lagarde has spoken about the issue of women in positions of power. Two years ago in Japan she called on the country’s leaders to kickstart their weak economy by empowering women: “I urge everyone – all women and men of goodwill – to dare the difference and bet on women. I promise you this: you will not be disappointed.”