Fancy A Career In Finance? It’s Not Just For Men
For some people, there’s definitely a perception that entering the finance industry is something that only men are cut out to do.
To some extent, this perception is fuelled by the outdated idea that only men can handle the pressures of a high-intensity, risky environment – and the macho culture in many financial institutions could be interpreted as evidence that this is true. The reality couldn’t be more different.
While it’s still mostly men who work in finance firms, many women have also broken into this sector in recent years.
And with some banks now advocating on behalf of women and integrating them into their recruitment campaigns in one way or another, it’s even becoming possible to say that women are being increasingly welcomed in investment and financial environments.
This article will explore some of the major reasons why women definitely can and should build a career in finance.
First of all, many banks have recently made a conscious effort to reach out to potential female employees. Schemes like this sometimes get a bad reputation – but in a context like investment banking, it’s often the case that they can transform entire trading floors with an added element of gender diversity.
The major bank JP Morgan Chase, for example, runs its “Women on the Move” programme. This programme describes its main goals as “to expand women-run businesses, improve women’s financial health and advance women’s career growth,” it says.
And it specifically namechecks its own employees, too: “Through these efforts, our goal is to help secure an equal future for our female employees, clients, consumers and the communities we serve.”
The proliferation of examples of successful women in finance, including Lady Barbara Judge and Anu Aiyengar, also act as mini diversity schemes in themselves, and act as case studies and inspirations.
And there is also a range of organisations out there that endeavour to represent women who work in finance. Each year, for example, the Women in Finance Awards take place all across the world, and help to combat stereotypes around the industry.
Sometimes, the argument is made that men are simply “better suited” to roles in finance, perhaps because of a “cut-throat instinct” or similar.
Aside from the fact that there is no basis in fact to these claims, it’s also the case that some of stereotypically feminine characteristics can be useful in the banking world.
A large part of investment banking, for example, revolves around relationship-building with clients – while investment banks also often employ large equity sales teams.
Whether you’re a woman or a man, being friendly, attentive and a good listener can deliver real value to a financial institution. And while of course not all women embody these stereotypes, it’s definitely the case that the industry is so broad that there is bound be a role for every personality type – no matter whether you’re male or female.
Investment banking recruitment processes are rigorous – but this can work in the favour of women.
It can mean that talents and skills are more likely to be flagged up rather than forgotten about or devalued – which is a real boon for women who may be concerned that recruitment managers will make sweeping judgements about their abilities or plans.
While in an ideal world childcare would be the sort of role that is split 50-50 between mothers and fathers, the reality is that this is still skewed for many families.
In some families, there’s an unspoken expectation that men have more of a right to focus on their careers. In other families, a man’s higher earnings are often used as open justification for asking the woman to remain at home while the man goes out to work.
It’s certainly true that jobs in finance have long hours – and for women who fall into one of the two categories above, the high amounts of time spent at the office and time away from any kids in the family can certainly be somewhat off-putting.
But it’s also important to remember that many finance jobs which are high-stress and high-intensity are also often very well-paid – meaning that the financial ability to pay for wrap-around care is often more of a possibility than it is in most other careers.
As a woman thinking of entering finance, you may have a few queries about whether or not it is the right environment for you.
There are question marks over the supposedly stereotypically manly nature of the sector, for example, while some people even go so far as to claim that women aren’t suited to the work.
But as the efforts of organisations such as the Women in Finance Awards and JP Morgan Chase just go to show, this doesn’t have to be true – and women can do just as well in this sector as men.