Women are largely underrepresented at all levels of the finance industry, but that doesn't mean that women don't have a place in finance. In fact, many women in finance are incredibly successful, and they're paving the way for more women to enter the field.
Female representation in finance is ultimately declining. That's largely because, although 46 percent of financial services employees are women, at the executive level, that percentage is only 15 percent — women aren't making it to leadership positions. Studies from the Harvard Business School suggest that, among senior roles in venture capital and private equity, for example, women hold just nine and six percent of the positions, respectively; women occupy only three percent of senior management roles in hedge funds.
Here's a look at some women who are leading in finance, as well as some resources to get you started in the field yourself and some information on what your career opportunities in finance look like.
Despite the obvious lack of female leaders in finance, the few who've made it to the top are changing the future of finance. Here are five women you should know.
Seema Hingorani is the founder of Girls Who Invest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to "increasing the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership in the asset management industry." It has a mission to ensure that, by 2030, 30 percent of the world’s capital will be managed by women.
Christine Lagarde has been the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 2011, working to bring economic discipline to 189 countries. She's the first woman to head the IMF and has also been ranked in Forbes’ 2017 list of "The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women," coming in eight place.
Marianne Lake is the CFO of JPMorgan Chase, and she's named second on American Banker's The Most Powerful Women in Banking 2018 list. She was also included in Forbes’ The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list last year.
Since 2014, Abigail Johnson has been the president and CEO of the investment firm Fidelity Investments, as well as the chairman of its international sister company, Fidelity International.
“We have a real need in our business right now to recruit more women,” she said in a Bloomberg interview. When women come into Fidelity branches, "very often, the first thing they say when we’re trying to get them paired up with a rep is, ‘I’d like to work with a woman,"’ she said.
Dame Helena Morrissey is the chair of the diversity project and head of personal investing at Legal and General Investment Management. She founded the 30% Club, a cross-business initiative aimed at achieving better gender balance in the boardroom. She was named on Fortune’s list of The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders for 2015, and she spoke at Women of the Square Mile in February 2018.
Here are some organizations, groups, conferences and scholarships to check out if you're interested in a career in finance, yourself.
There aren't nearly as many women in finance as there are men, let alone female leaders. But finance roles are on the rise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And women can fill these openings — but only if they're given equal opportunities. Unfortunately, not nearly as many women are interested in finance, and many in the industry face unique challenges that their male counterparts don't.
For example, according to research published by Glassdoor, men account for 61.5 percent of degrees in finance. Women aren't interested in finance so much largely because they don't anticipate going into the field. After all, they don't have many female role models or connections to help land them jobs.
“It’s no secret that this industry is very male-dominated,” Francesca Federico, co-founder and principal of Twelve Points Wealth Management told Forbes. “It’s pretty much an ‘old boys club’ and most men have gotten into this industry because their father or golf buddy or college alumni was in it. I think women have a hard time breaking in because there have never been that many to begin with.”
For women who do work in finance, stemming the tides isn't easy. A 2013 Mergis Group Women in Finance survey suggests that less than half of women in accounting and finance are satisfied with their careers. In fact, nearly three-quarters of female respondents reported facing a different set of challenges than their male colleagues.
From 2008 to 2017, women in finance saw the biggest pay disparities compared with their male colleagues, according to a study conducted by 24/7 Wall St. that uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The widest pay gaps were found among personal financial advisers, administrative managers and financial services sales agents. The study suggests that women make up just 32.9 percent of personal financial advisers, earning 58.9 percent of their male counterparts’ salaries, for example.
Firms with more than 250 employees are required to publish details of their gender pay gap by April each year. And, in 2018, Barclays International has published a gender pay gap of 48 percent. For bonuses, that number is 79 percent. RBS has a mean gender pay gap of 37 percent (and 64 percent when it comes to bonuses), and Lloyds has a mean gender pay gap of 33 percent (and 65 percent when it comes to bonuses).
So while the job trajectory outlook is promising for careers in finance, women are still hugely underpaid.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.