Women in Finance Still Paid Less

March 13th, 2008

According to a new survey from the Financial Women’s Association, women who work in finance are still paid less than men for comparable work and have made little progress on the equal pay front since 1998.

96% of the 259 association members surveyed said that women are paid less. This is exactly the same response received to the same question a decade ago in the Financial Women’s Association’s 1998 survey. When asked about improvements over the last three years, only 10% felt that pay parity had improved.

The survey also revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents consider their gender a factor that holds them back in their careers in the financial industry. Many cited a lack of access to decision-makers, mentors, or the type of assignments that are critical for career advancement. Some of the specific obstacles perceived as obstacles to women’s career advancement were:

  • "Old boys’ neworks"
  • Women failing to support other women
  • Female stereotypes
  • Family obligations
  • Limited access to flex time/part-time
  • Lack of political savvy and "ability to play the game"
  • Ethnicity

Is anyone else starting to feel really depressed? I worked in the financial services industry for many years and I must admit that I witnessed a lot of these obstacles firsthand. In at least one position, I know I earned significantly less than a male colleague with less responsibility, fewer years of experience, and lower performance scores. I also remember well feeling shut out of the old boys’ network and many lovely specific incidents that I won’t get into here.

So I’m not surprised that these factors are still issues. I guess what bothers me is the fact that these issues are still so common. And the fact that there have been no improvements since 2002 (at least) despite all of the happy corporate talk at big companies about diversity and on-ramping and encouraging women leaders.

Is the financial services industry particularly unfair to women or is this a symptom of a bigger issue across industries? In my research for Escape from Corporate America, I was encouraged to learn about great programs to promote diversity and flexibility at many forward-thinking and employee-focused firms. Unfortunately, these companies seem to still be exceptions to the rule when it comes to fair treatment of all employees, regardless of gender and ethnicity.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from financial services industry employees about their response to this survey and whether they think the results are representative.

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1 Comment

It’s quite depressing. Why are women still under the umbrella of the “Diversity” department? -When women make up half of the population.

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