What Will It Take to Make Finance More Gender-Balanced?  

27 December 2018:

We overheard male classmates bond with internship interviewers about fantasy football drafts. We were taught that Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham were the best modern investors. We witnessed senior men sexualize younger women employees. It is no wonder we came to fear our gender would keep us from achieving the same level of success as our male peers in finance.

Because one of us (Malin) grew up in Sweden, considered to be one of the most gender-equal countries, with family-friendly policies that emphasize both parents’ responsibility of raising a family, we wondered whether gender equality in the finance industry in Sweden had progressed further than it had in the U.S. – and if there were any lessons to be learned there.

We turned to those most able to effect change in finance: the professionals actively working in the field. We surveyed 60 finance professionals —ranging from partners in top investment banks and senior members of VC firms, to junior traders and entry-level financial consultants—and interviewed 30 in more detail. Our samples were about half men and half women, and about 67% from the U.S. and 33% from Sweden. We asked about gender representation in their firms, and whether they believed they could positively impact gender equality in their workplace (also known as self-efficacy).

Going into the study, we expected to see equal representation of women and men in senior leadership positions in Sweden and higher self-efficacy among professionals in Sweden than in the U.S. We doubted, for example, that we would come across Swedish investment banking teams with under 40% women. Contrary to our expectations, we found that our initial perceptions were incorrect in the more competitive fields of finance, such as venture capital, investment banking, and securities.

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Source: Harvard Business Review

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