21 September 2016

A Global Perspective of Women in Finance

What will it take to get more women onto boards in the financial services industry?

Whilst it is an accepted view that female participation in the workforce is a necessity if society as a whole wants to improve firm performance, the issue regarding the number of women on boards, however, is more a matter of practicality as it provides a convenient benchmark to study career advancement in women. There are currently only two valid data points to measure this advancement, the first being how many women graduate from university (in 2010-11, 55% of undergraduate students in the UK were women), and the second being the number of women holding board positions (15% of all directorships in FTSE 100 were women). The dramatic difference in these numbers raises the question – where are we losing all the women along the way?

The paper, “Women in Finance”, examines evidence that across the globe boardroom gender diversity is lower in financial firms, particularly banks, than in other firms. The research hypothesises that real or perceived differences in math outcomes by gender may be one explanation for the lack of women on the boards of financial firms, and provides insight that can help financial firms develop programmes to counter this imbalance.

by Renée Adams, Tom Kirchmaier

  • Manchester Business School
  • University of New South Wales