Destiny or 'Choice': Women in Investment Management - Why So Few?

Article excerpt


Traditionally, banking and finance have been male domains; however, in recent years women have been attempting to challenge this status quo. Investment management and the trading floor (despite being the most lucrative sub-sector of the industry) stubbornly remains 'a jungle of chest-pounding males' (Lewis, 1989: 9). This paper aims to address the current gap in the literature concerning the educational choices and subsequent career-orientated decisions made by women which influences them to opt into or out of careers in investment management. This paper, while recognising choice is a multifaceted, intricate process, will concentrate on one strand of the literature, namely the individual factors which have been put forward to explain the existence of gendered behaviour in educational and occupational choice. A conceptual model is presented within this paper which identifies three key clusters of individual factors that influence educational and occupational choice. This model assists in addressing the question of whether men and women's educational and occupational choices differ not because of stereotypes embedded by society, family and institutions, but because of our inherent personality traits.

Key Words: Investment management; educational choice; occupational choice; gendered behaviour


One of the most striking features of the global labour market is that, despite the market being more or less equally divided between men and women, significant differences exist in the occupations that men and women occupy (Weisgram et al., 2010). In particular, women are significantly underrepresented in fields such as construction, engineering and science, as testified by a significant body of literature regarding women's experiences in these domains (Hegewisch et al., 2010; Rosenbloom et al., 2008; Bacik and Drew, 2006; Adya and Kaiser, 2005). Within the field of finance, a small body of literature exists regarding women's representation in the sector. Most of this literature has focused on women working in accounting and, to a lesser extent, auditing and taxation (Twomey and Linehan, 2002; Barker and Monks, 1998). Over the last decade, some literature has emerged regarding women working in financial services sectors such as insurance and retail banking (Broadbridge et al., 2007; Ozbilgin and Woodward, 2004) but, to date, investment management has received limited attention.

Within the financial services sector, statistics indicate equality among the sexes globally (Zahidi and Ibarra, 2010). In 2010, the majority of working women were employed in the services sectors, with financial services and insurance recording the highest level of female employment at 60 per cent (Zahidi and Ibarra, 2010). Patterns across the European Union's 27 member states (EU27) were similar, with parity between the number of men and women employed in the financial services sector evident in 2007 (51.1 per cent female and 48.9 per cent male) according to the European Commission (2007). In Ireland in 2006, 58.4 per cent of all employees in the financial services sector were women (European Commission, 2008).

Despite the fact that women and men are equally represented at a sectorial level within financial services globally, significant divergence is evident in both the sub-sectors women and men work in and the roles they hold. This is a stubborn trend which has persisted over the decades, as evidenced by findings of the International Labour Organization and the European Commission:

Men are in the majority among managers, top executives, and higher levels of professional workers whilst women are still concentrated in the lower categories of managerial positions (International Labour Organization, 2004: 2).

Women are prominent in administrative and secretarial jobs, but are significantly underrepresented in managerial jobs, including those at senior level (European Commission, 2010: 20).

Even at the very highest EU decision-making levels within the financial services sector, gender imbalance is apparent. …