Why are there so few women in finance?
The finance industry has achieved gender equality – in entry-level positions. But the further up the ladder you go, the worse it looks. According to a Harvard study, 11% of senior managers in hedge funds are women, 9% in venture capital, and just 6% in private equity.
What’s going wrong? Why is finance still lagging behind other professional fields like medicine, law, and academia in terms of gender equality? The answers are complex.
It starts at university: while women graduates now outnumber men, that isn’t the case in economics. In the early 2000s, about 30% of British economics students were women. Today it’s fallen to just 26% – and the fact that a tiny 15.5% of those teaching them are women can’t be helping.
For those who do graduate, low job satisfaction may be sapping their ambition or driving them to change careers. In a survey by the Mergis Group, less than 50% of women in finance and accounting said they were satisfied with their careers.
And with a talent drought hitting the financial industry, the loss of talented women isn’t just women’s problem – it’s the whole sector’s problem
Fortunately, some organisations are stepping up to offer a solution. Nonprofit Girls Who Invest, founded in 2015 by financial expert Seema Hingorani in 2015, aims to achieve “30 by 30”: 30% of the world’s capital managed by women by 2030.
Hingorani is a veteran of the hedge fund industry who once managed $150 billion worth of pension funds as the interim CIO of the New York City Bureau of Asset Management. This gave her connections with dozens of investment management teams that were keen to score New York City contracts.
Girls Who Invest works to inspire young women to pursue careers in financial services, offering intensive training sessions including a four-week summer pilot programme in which undergraduate students can learn the core concepts of finance, asset management, and markets from finance professionals, business school professors, and guest speakers from across the finance industry.
The programme provides students with a CV-friendly certificate that Hingorani predicts will help recruiters identify promising young women in the field.
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