What Is It Like to Be a Plus-One at Davos?

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Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Anya Schiffrin — Columbia University professor and, along with her husband Joseph Stiglitz, one-half of New York's favorite domestic-affairs correspondence team — has established an annual tradition of drawing attention to the gender imbalance at the World Economic Forum in Davos via delightful tongue-in-cheek blog posts for Reuters. Last year, she took an anthropological look at the Davos Mistress; this year, she turns the satirical Brooksian mirror on herself, the Davos Spouse.  She is a veteran of the conference, and thus qualified to make statements like, "You can carbon date Davos Wives by their shoes. Newcomers tend to wear attractively dainty heels." But what about the men?

Every now and then one spots a Davos Husband, gay or straight, but he’s a rare species. They are often mistaken for Davos Man and tend to be good sports about their role as trailing spice. They don’t join Davos Wives in their traditional activities. I suspect they are on the ski slopes or watching panels. I hope to meet one this year.

Schiffrin also offers succor to those who secretly wish they (or their spouse) had been asked. "Last year one businessman held forth about his travails in Russia and kept the crowd entertained with a lengthy description of how he lost his company to the tax authorities," she writes.  "That passes for a gripping evening at Davos. "

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