The finance industry can be incredibly fast-paced, exciting, and lucrative. Working in it requires constant hard work, dedication, and strong background knowledge to help push through numerous stumbling blocks. Complex situations and challenges are an everyday occurrence that professionals must face on a routine basis. However, gender stereotypes can doubly heighten these challenges, most especially for women.
When you imagine a finance professional, you’ll likely conjure up an image of a businessman working on his computer behind a desk. Despite recent social awakenings surrounding gender inequalities and women empowerment, women are still underrepresented in industries like the finance sector. Studies show that the number of female professionals in the industry has risen in the past few years. But it’s still nowhere close to how many men get employed in the same organization. This lack of representation doesn’t come from women not wanting to pursue a career in finance, but quite the contrary.
The proportion of men and women entering finance is roughly the same, but one of the two doesn’t receive the same recognition as the other. So, where do all the women in finance go? And why don’t we associate the professionals of this industry with a gender-neutral term?
To answer these questions, we highlight the top 5 challenges women face in the finance industry and ways to overcome them.
1. Lack of mentors
There’s an even shorter availability of female mentors or leaders in the finance industry. Mentors are critical in guiding their mentees to more effectively plan their careers and provide relevant industry experience. And while a lack of appropriate advisors to help you professionally may pose a challenge, it isn’t something that can’t get fixed. For example, consider enrolling in the Wiley Efficient Learning program to enhance your qualification, such as CPA and skillset. Doing so will improve your chances of meeting someone who will be more than happy to be your mentor and offer you sound advice.
Additionally, your qualification and expertise will provide you with the knowledge and experience to become a mentor for women who later join the industry.
2. Maintaining a work-life balance
Societal expectations force women to fulfill their primary responsibilities regarding family roles and prioritize personal lives over their careers. Female professionals in the finance industry, like other working women, often struggle with maintaining a work-life balance. Compared to fathers, it’s harder for mothers to advance professionally since they usually take time off work to care for a child or other family members. The pre-pandemic era began to show some improvements in gender-based expectations. However, social distancing, lockdowns, and work-from-home setups disrupted this routine and created more negative implications for women.
The only solution to ease this burden is to redistribute housework and personal responsibilities equally among both parents. Doing so will prevent women from burning out or taking additional pressure to create a work-life balance, removing this obstacle to career advancement.
3. Workplace harassment
Harassment can involve a range of behaviors and has no fixed definition. Although workplace harassment has existed well over the years, it’s become even more evident in recent years. Social movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp burst into the mainstream in a considerably short amount of time, mainly because of how common these occurrences have become. Actions like wolf-whistling, touching, and passing lewd remarks are often part of most women’s lives. And while people may consider working women to have greater autonomy, they too are likely to face harassment. Females working in managerial positions or positions of power typically face backlash for taking on male-dominant roles.
All employers and managers must work together to eliminate harassment in the workplace. Implement policies and strict actions to prevent wrongdoing and establish discipline in all settings.
4. Pay gap
Several workers and organizations have shed light on the gender pay gap and ways to bridge the difference in recent years. But although it’s a topic often discussed widely, statistics show that the gap still exists today. A survey conducted by PayScale showed that women make $0.28 for every dollar a man earns. This wage difference is the same as last year, proving that equal pay remains a prevailing challenge. In most companies, employers aren’t allowed to discuss their salaries because managers don’t want women to find out they’re getting paid less than their male counterparts. The discrepancy between salaries is apparent even with the same job responsibilities, duties, and positions.
Organizations must be held accountable to bridge this gap for discriminating against different genders and not paying all employees fairly. Keeping silent means, you’re only encouraging this behavior and supporting their misconduct.
5. Gender bias
Research shows that company executives and supervisors are 1.5 times more likely to hire male candidates than females, despite having equal qualifications. Whether consciously or unconsciously, gender bias is so deeply rooted in everyday systems that working around it is a challenge all on its own. During job interviews, women typically get asked questions such as “are you married?” or “do you plan on having children?” Male candidates never have to answer these questions as they have no basis or relevance to the skills an individual brings to the organization. These prejudiced behaviors can manifest into more harmful actions such as overlooking women for job promotions or annual bonuses, even when they rightfully deserve them.
Fighting gender bias has been an age-long battle that’s far from over. While it’s not something you can fix overnight, you can take the initiative toward its eradication. Share your experiences with those who have the privilege to influence change and practice transparency to help others understand your circumstances better.
Although we’ve come a long way from how things were a few decades ago, women still face challenges and obstacles in the finance industry and beyond. Fortunately, the abundant resources available today make it possible for women to succeed despite these barriers. Several strategies like strengthening your skillset, advancing your education, and raising your voice can pave the way for future female professionals and create equal spaces for them to excel.