The financial and technology sectors are among the largest and most influential industries these days. Despite this, women as a whole are vastly underrepresented compared to men. Working to close the gender gap has been a controversial, but it’s important that we don’t think of this some kind of token gesture. It will actually have real, practical benefits for business owners moving forward. Think about it: if around 50% of the population isn’t interested in working for you, in the long run you’re going to be severely limiting your search for the best talent.
Oanda’s online financial news publication, Market Pulse, reported how this was particularly prevalent in Japan where, “millions of highly educated women [were] not working”.
Over the past few years, the technology industry has spoken a lot about the importance of becoming more reflective of the type of people that their products ultimately serve. Not only have we seen large companies like Apple conduct internal audits in an effort to improve their employee diversity, but in 2013 we also saw volunteer-led initiatives like App Camp for Girls spring up in locations across North America. This allows girls, across the ages of 11-13, to learn the basics of app development at a young age.
Learning these skills at a young age is important because the gender disparity in professions like software engineers is often attributed to a lack of education in the area. The problem is a real chicken-and-egg scenario though: there are less women working in technology because not as many women have the necessary skills for the job, but since there are so few other women working in the industry many are less interested in learning said skills.
One of the main drawbacks of working in finance for women is the perceived wage gap. Unfortunately, according to a new study from the World Economic Forum, this assumption is true as the financial sector was deemed to have third-highest wage gap of any industry at 38%. Similarly, in a survey published by BritainThinks, many of the women asked also noted that the “male-dominated” and “patronising” nature of the industry was a major turn-off.
Having said that, the advent of the internet and online financial services has had a significant impact on the number of women working in finance. No longer confined by the “old boys’ club” mentality of the past, women, as well as minorities or those from a lower socioeconomic class, are able to start trading online, instead of through traditional routes that often formed barriers to employment in the past. Interestingly, there may also be research suggesting that women actually have some skills that make them better investors than their male counterparts.
Financial and technology sectors, like many others, are now seeing the benefits of a more balanced workforce. This Computer Weekly article cites a gender study carried out amongst the boards of Fortune 500 companies which found that those with a higher number of women directors had better returns on average of 54% on capital investment, sales and equity.
References & Sources:
OANDA: Forex Broker
Market Pulse: Japan’s Women are its Most Underutilized Resource
The Independent: The sectors with the largest gender pay gaps revealed
Chartered Management Institute: Gender Pay Gap