AP – U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said he was surprised that women were not invited to the annual meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, despite his decades of urging.
“I was not surprised to learn that women did not make up a significant portion of the FOMC meeting attendees,” Lew said in a statement Tuesday.
He said the meeting “does not reflect the diversity of our membership or the many women who are members.”
Lew’s comments come as a growing number of senior women are leaving Wall Street to enter the public service and political careers.
About 1.6 million women and girls are working in the private sector and in the public sector, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.
The most senior women working in Congress are among the most senior in their political parties.
The Brookings report said only 13.6 percent of Congress members were women in 2014.
Among the most powerful women in Congress, the most recent figures show only four women — Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D, Ill.), Rep.-elect Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) and Rep. Gwen Moore (D.-Ga.)
— are women.
That’s a sharp contrast to the average percentage of senior leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate who are women, the report said.
The lack of women in senior roles in Washington has drawn criticism from some Republicans and Democrats.
“It’s not a question of if we want to have a strong, powerful, and well-connected leadership but when,” said Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), who chairs the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
The White House also has been criticized for not making the meeting more diverse.
A White House spokesperson said President Barack Obama attended the Fed meeting.
“The White House strongly encourages the F.C.C.’s members to engage in open, honest and constructive dialogue with each other,” the spokesperson said in an email.
The Federal Reserve Board is the central bank of the United States and is charged with monitoring and regulating financial markets.
It meets to decide how the central banks of the world will work together in the coming years to maintain and expand economic growth.
In its annual meeting last week, the FSC voted to keep interest rates at near zero for the first time since 1999.
It’s been one of the central issues in recent months for President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly accused the FED of being an “anti-American cartel” and has promised to impose a “massive tax” on the Fed’s assets.