Challenges for women in finance

A recent study of men and women working in the finance and investment sectors in Canada shed light on the unique struggles women continue to face in those sectors. The study, Women in Canadian Investment Dealers, conducted by research group Catalyst, found the following struggles for women in the sector:

The pipeline of women in senior management is very small. Women are underrepresented in all areas accounting for just 37 per cent of the total, but when sales associates are removed from the equation women represent just 19 per cent of managing directors, vice-presidents and professionals.

In most areas, women are less satisfied than men with career advancement opportunities. For example, 68 per cent of men in corporate or investment banking say they are happy with their advancement opportunities, while just 45 per cent of women feel the same way. Though women are more optimistic about their opportunities then they were five years ago.

Men are much less likely than women to recognize the barriers women face. Women and men agree the top barrier to women’s advancement is commitment to personal and family responsibilities but overall, men are less likely to agree barriers exist. The barriers women identify suggest that a large number feel a sense of exclusion.

Women strongly believe they need to conform their behaviour to fit into male-dominated culture. Women often said they had to develop a style with which male managers and directors are comfortable is important for their career.

Women believe that women are not compensated fairly. Thirty-eight per cent of women believe women are paid similarly to men for comparable work but 64 per cent of men felt women are paid fairly.

Women feel they have to make trade-offs in their personal lives to achieve career success. Some women said they felt they had to wait to have children in order to succeed in their career. Twenty-nine per cent of women said they postponed having children while 8 per cent said they decided not to have children at all.

Women feel excluded from informal network. Women often feel like they aren’t fully accepted. Men, on the other hand, felt more likely to be invited to participate in social activities after work and included in informal professional discussions.

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