What will it take to make finance more gender-balanced?

Even though more and more women are entering the finance industry than ever before, men still largely dominate the sector.

Furthermore, men generally rise to the top much more quickly than women do. For instance, in the United States, only a snivelling 4.9% of senior roles in venture capital firms are female, and in private equity companies, women represent less than 10% of senior roles.

To add to this, only six of the 107 largest financial institutions in the US are run by female CEOs.

Things don’t get much better in other countries. Take the financial services industry in the U.K. While there are 443,000 female professionals in the industry, there are 534,000 men. Also, a much higher percentage of those women work part-time in comparison to the men.

Even in Sweden, which is often considered to be one of the countries that’s leading the way in gender equality among industry, the gender inequality within finance is noticeable. 

A recent study proved that there is an unequal representation of women in financial roles in Sweden, especially in the areas of investment banking, venture capital, and securities.

Although the masculine culture of finance is still dominating the global stage, things are starting to turn around.

Improving diversity has become important to many companies and the levels of women joining the finance industry are increasing. But a lot more still needs to be done to make the world of finance more gender-balanced.

Gender-balance in the finance industry begins with education

In addition to a traditional male culture, long working hours and a lack of managerial support are two of the main reasons women give for not entering the finance sector.

But another key reason is the lack of female role models. When women see inspirational and influential women in finance leading the way, they’re more likely to consider entering the field and not see the male domination as a barrier.

Getting more female role models in finance begins with education. When women enrol at universities and gain business degrees, more career opportunities will be created for women and the playing field will start to even out more.

So, to make the finance industry more gender-balanced, the education system and countries’ governments should be promoting more opportunities and encouraging more females to get degrees that will help them climb the ladder in the financial world.

Women are taking matters into their own hands

To achieve equality in gender imbalance in the finance industry, some women are taking matters into their own hands.

For example, financial expert Seema Hingorani set up a non-profit organisation in 2015 called Girls Who Invest, which provides young women with courses and offerings that help to motivate and inspire them to join the investment management sector and the greater financial services sector.

The organisation’s aim is to have women managing 30% of global capital by the year 2030.

Wall Street’s Sallie Krawcheck is also helping to transform the gender imbalance of finance. Her company Ellevest, which was established in 2014, aims to make financial products like investing tools, coaching tools, and financial planners more accessible to women.

Legislation is changing

Things are changing for the better, even if slowly. And new legislation could come in to help the gender imbalance in many countries soon. Some are already leading the way.

For example, in the U.K. in 2017, new legislation was approved that means all companies operating within the U.K. that have 250 or more employees must provide specific transparent data about the difference in pay for the genders they employ.

The hope is that the legislation will incentivise organisations to further narrow the gender pay gap not just in the financial sector, but across the board.

Photo by Marek Levák