What You Need to Know
- The pipeline to mentor women for the C-suite has to begin sooner than career age.
- Boys learned computer games early, thus were not intimidated by coding as they got older.
- Girls should be trained, especially in investing, at an early age to be prepared for the business world.
When I walk into a room and see a crowd full of white men over the age of 40, I know I’m in the right place. Lack of diversity in the asset management industry is a fact that is palpable.
Earlier this fall, when Jane Fraser was announced as the next CEO of Citigroup, there was much celebration for the first woman to head a Wall Street bank. One Fortune headline promised a tell-all about how Fraser “broke banking’s highest glass ceiling.” An article in the Financial Times stated that there was an “amorphous sense of tribal pride, a collective ‘we did it.’”
But given Citi’s recent regulatory troubles — resulting in a $400 million fine for “unsafe and unsound banking practices” — Fraser’s promotion may appear, to the cynical, like just another example of an extremely capable woman being appointed to a glass cliff. It’s been well documented that women and minorities are more likely to be promoted to “top leadership roles when an organization is in crisis.”
Still, regardless of the mess that needs cleaning at Citibank, having more female leaders, visible role models, is crucial for developing the next generation of female leaders in finance.
Moving Forward — Maybe?
Cited in the same Fortune piece was a McKinsey study comparing the rates at which men and women climb the ladder in banking and consumer finance. While 51% of entry-level banking and consumer finance employees are women, only 26% of the industry’s C-Suite roles are occupied by women.
Meanwhile, women have obtained bachelor’s degrees at higher rates than men since the early 1980s, though Glassdoor reports that men are taking 61.5% of degrees in finance.
Portfolio management is particularly devoid of women, with Morningstar finding that in the United States, the ratio of male to female fund managers is 9 to 1. And despite the number of female portfolio managers staying pretty much flat since 2000, it appears as though positions for male portfolio managers have grown somewhere around 55% over the past 20 years.
Real World Perspective
These disturbing numbers hold true in my experience. I was recently included among CityWire’s top portfolio managers for my fund’s category, where only two women made the top 50 and only nine women rounded out the top 100.
I guess the silver lining here is supposed to be that Morningstar’s study found that the lack of gender diversity among fund managers has nothing to do with issues of poor performance.
Looking around and seeing very few other women is something I also experienced as an undergraduate majoring in computer science.