18%.That’s the percentage of finance professionals who are women (Hooker, 2018).
Why is this number so low? There are many reasons why women don’t pursue jobs in this field at the same rate as men. Some general concerns, for both men and women entering the industry, are the high-stress levels and job difficulty. However, female-specific hesitations also stem from the absence of role models and support. According to Beth Burns of Aon, “Women are often discouraged from contemplating a career in financial services because there is limited female leadership.” In an effort to combat this, the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA), a global association of investment professionals, launched an initiative to increase diversity in finance. The table below shows companies’ motivations for diversifying their employee demographics. According to the table, improved business outcomes were the most common factor, with 80% of companies viewing it as a motivator (CFA Institute, 2018).
Piquing girls’ interest from an early age is vital to an increased female presence in the finance industry. This can be achieved through the following means:
• Encouraging girls to study math
• Providing female role models in financial industries to girls
• Introducing girls to the stock market at a young age
If you are interested in a career in finance, Christine Tinker, a portfolio manager, said the key to being successful is “staying focused on a career and thinking about the next step.” What is your next step?
• Ask others about mentors who can help guide you
• Network with friends and neighbors
• Use resources already available to you to discover new opportunities i.e. ask your local bank manager, connect with people via sites like Linkedin.
• Find internships to gain experience in the field. You can get exposed to different careers and see what area you might want to pursue.
Over the past 20 years, the number of women in the industry has steadily increased; however, there is still a significant gender gap that needs to be addressed. There are a plethora of different kinds of jobs in the financial industry that are available to women. There is simply a need for interest in them. The best way to learn more is to make as many connections as possible. The opportunities are endless!