Women in financial services: Challenges women face working in finance

by Badgley Phelps | Jan 17, 2018

Working in financial services can be an incredibly rewarding career for women, but as with any industry, it doesn’t come without challenges. In part two of our three-part series on women in finance, developed with input from five women who work at Badgley Phelps, we share three of the top challenges of working in finance – and how to combat them to enjoy a long, productive career.

Challenge 1: Gender discrimination still exists

Though it’s been 25 years since the book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” was published, recent research from Pew Research Center says that “society places a higher premium on masculinity than femininity.” In short, gender bias still exists.

In financial services specifically, there are simply fewer women in finance. Says Director of Financial Planning and Wealth Manager Julie Parisio Roy, “Maybe it was the idea that it was a power-hungry profession – or perhaps just the ‘good ol’ boys club’ was enough to discourage women in this industry. Any industry that is predominantly male means that women need to work a little harder to prove their worth to their peers and leaders.”

Wealth Manager and Research Analyst Mitzi Carletti agrees that the problem still exists, but is hopeful that it’s improving. “I believe the historical challenges of dealing with discrimination and harassment in a male dominated industry are unfortunately not yet extinct. Fortunately, my experience at Badgley Phelps has been a very supportive and inclusive environment.”

“The environment here values people’s accomplishments and contributions regardless of whether they are male or female,” says Associate Wealth Manager Lisa Price. “At the end of the day, if you are intelligent, a good communicator and have integrity, then that speaks for itself.”

Challenge 2: Lack of female mentors

Mentors are a fantastic way to learn the ropes, get advice and build your confidence when just starting out in a field. But fewer women working in financial services overall means fewer women in the pool of qualified mentors from which to choose.

What can you do when you are seeking a mentor but there are seemingly none to be found? Leadership coach Michael Hyatt suggests redefining your definition of the word “mentor,” expanding it to include other valuable tools and resources that can, at least partially, fill the mentor void. These include: subscribing to relevant blogs or podcasts, reading industry-appropriate books, taking courses, attending conferences online or in person, joining membership sites, or creating or joining a mastermind group.

Here are some resources to explore:

Challenge 3: The balancing act

“Similar to other industries, working women who have a family face the tension of balancing demands in the workplace and at home,” says Research Analyst Katie Wham “Given the long hours that are common at many finance firms, this industry may be a particularly difficult place to find a balance for women. Badgley Phelps values quality over quantity, which means that doing great work and spending time with your family are both possible.”

At this year’s Women on Point conference, which is aimed at training female leaders, conference co-founder Aimee Cohen recommended that women “think of work-life balance from a calendar-year view. If you work in the accounting or finance industry, before April 15 might be steadily busy. Consider balance in terms of not only the hour, day and week but also month and year. If you know June might be busy, build some buffer into July or August. Recognize needs might change as your family evolves. Employees with young children might prioritize being home for dinner, but with busy teenagers, schedules shift. Or perhaps a partner or spouse travels, and you want to align trips.” (Source: Chicago Tribune)

Despite the challenges that come with working in finance, the industry offers many rewards as well. Read about the benefits of working in finance >   



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