working women

Women in Finance Say They’ve Faced Discrimination…but Shrug It Off!

Efinancial Careers, a job site for financial professionals recently surveyed 1,000 people.  This is what the female respondents had to say:

  • 88% believe gender discrimination exists in the financial services industry
  • 33% say they’ve experienced gender discrimination, personally
  • 46% say that gender discrimination exists at their own company
  • Half of the 46% who say that gender discrimination exists at their own company would still recommend their company to other women!

From personal experience, I know that women who work (and thrive) in finance are an especially thick-skinned bunch.  This group of women have to deal with a lot of testosterone: trading floors filled with tough language, eating contests, competitiveness worn as a badge of honor, physical hazing activities, sports metaphors, strip club outings, etc.  If you’ve watched the Wolf of Wall Street, you’ve seen an extreme, gross caricature of what things have and still can be like.

It seems that the women in this survey have a defeatist attitude about their discrimination experiences.  The Efinancial Careers article cites a former-female-banker-turned-career-coach who hypothesizes that women who’ve survived and thrived in finance may just think that discrimination is part of the job/industry experience.  For these women who have gotten past (or through) their discrimination experiences, the idea is that they don’t believe it would have been different at another company.  In fact, the more educated the survey respondents were, the more likely they were to recommend their firm (even a discriminatory one) to other women.

Based on my conversations with women in finance, I believe there are important and real differences among firms, and departments within firms.  I’ve had enough conversations with women in finance to know that some companies and departments (usually due to the head of the department or group) are more egalitarian than others, and there are places with cultures and policies that are better for women than other places.  All of my conversations lead me to believe that women would not all equally recommend all firms and this is especially the case for women who have worked at multiple companies.  The truth is typically more nuanced than “its the same everywhere”.  For example, one woman told me that she would recommend a certain investment bank as a fine place for a young woman to start a career but that she would not tell other women that it would be a good place to advance beyond the VP level.  This kind of information is much more helpful to women in financial services than broad-brushed comments about whether discrimination exists in financial services, and is the type of helpful insight I hope Fairygodboss members will share.  If you’ve worked at more than one financial company, please share your opinion!

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