Gender bias is a continuing problem in the finance industry, but it goes beyond workplace discrimination.
Three business schools in the Massachusetts area, Babson College, Bentley University, and Bryant University, have roughly 60% males and 40% females. These schools are known for their successful business programs, but the problem is that they aren’t attracting females to their programs like they should be. Harvard Business Review found that between 2012 and 2013, 60% of university graduates were women, but only 36.4% of MBA degrees awarded were given to women in the United States.
Innovation Enterprise found, according to an Opportunity Now survey, that over 50% of women in the finance industry said they have been bullied in the past three years. Financial Times also did a study that showed that 28% of women have experienced harassment and 54% were the subjects of inappropriate behavior.
According to The Guardian, women make up 60% of the global workplace but only 14% of board seats and 2% of CEOs are females in the finance industry.
As a female college student who is pursuing a business degree, I find these numbers discouraging. In the finance course I took this past semester, there were 17 males and only 6 females. As we are starting to focus on how to bridge the gender gap in the workforce, we need to start figuring out ways to encourage females to seek a business degree in the first place.
One thing companies like Citigroup and PwC are trying to push is the idea of having new fathers take longer paternity leave. This can stop the bias decision of whether or not to hire a female because of the possibility of them having to leave for an extended period of time for a child.
New York Times found that there is a lack of women on Wall Street, because they don’t have a role model, and when they do, they normally don’t stay long. There is a stereotype on Wall Street for men and women. Males are seen as “macho,” and this entails the connotation that they are more willing to work longer days and nights for more money, and they don’t care about anything else. If women are to act like this, they are seen as masculine and unattractive. Aggression is seen as a positive thing in males and a negative thing in females on Wall Street.
A recent finding at MIT clarified that bridging the gender gap is more than just fixing a number. It requires attention to the community and culture at the campus in classrooms, labs, and dorm rooms. Once the number is fixed, organizations then need to focus on creating cultures that are more gender inclusive.