Hollywood, it is often said, is tough on women. When Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director for The Hurt Locker in 2010, she became the first-ever female director since 1929—the inaugural year of the Academy Awards—to win this coveted award. Yet Hollywood is hardly an outlier. There’s another high profile, big money industry where women have been historically underrepresented. In the upper echelons of financial management and investment services, female workers have long been notoriously scarce.

Women in Finance

Studies conducted by the Harvard Business School paint a tough picture for women: among senior roles in venture capital and private equity, women held just 9% and 6% of the positions, respectively. Hedge funds bring that number to lower depths: women occupied only 11% of senior management roles.

Nonprofit Girls Who Invest was founded in 2015 and continues to invest in young women's future careers in the financial services industry.

When it comes to balancing gender equality, finance has simply not kept pace with many other professional fields, such as law, academia, and medicine. That’s despite the fact that women now receive the majority of college degrees in the United States across every category, from bachelor’s degrees to doctorates.

Key Takeaways

  • Gender equality in the finance industry is behind other fields, like medicine or academia.
  • Women and men begin in parity at the start of their careers in finance, but the C-suite is still predominantly male in the financial sector.
  • Nonprofits like Girls Who Invest offer programs to bring young females into the world of finance through internships and mentoring programs.

Business School

Yet while university classrooms and campus walkways are populated with more women than men, finance and business degrees still slightly remain the province of male students for the most part. For example, in 2019, 42% of students at the Harvard Business School, were women.

A 2018 report from McKinsey found that while male and females in finance begin their careers on equal footing, as the ladder rises, women only account for 19% of the positions of power (aka the C-suite).

From School to Work

According to figures published by Glassdoor, men accounted for 61.5 percent of degrees in finance. And such numbers do not seem to be improving. Could low job satisfaction in the field play a role? The Mergis Group Women in Finance survey indicated that less than half of women in the fields of accounting and finance are satisfied with their careers.

Investing in Young Women

Declining numbers among women studying finance paired with low job satisfaction reports demand a creative solution to combat an acute problem.

Fortunately, there is be a game-changer in town: Girls Who Invest, a nonprofit organization founded by financial expert Seema Hingoraniwith in 2015, has an ambitious mission that by 2030, 30% of the world’s capital will be managed by women. 

The visionary behind “30 by 30” is no stranger to the boys’ club of finance herself. Before making the plunge into the nonprofit world, hedge fund industry veteran Hingorani managed $150 billion in pension funds as interim CIO of New York City’s Bureau of Asset Management at one time. That experience put her in touch with scores of investment management teams who were keen to be granted New York City contracts.

Inspiring Interest

In order to achieve the organization's mission, Girls Who Invest's programs and offerings are designed to motivate, interest, and inspire young women to join the investment management and greater financial services field.

How it Works

Girls Who Invest offers a summer pilot program, among other intensive sessions, for young women. In a four-week intensive training program over the summer, rising college sophomores and juniors study core finance, markets, and asset management concepts under the tutelage of business school professors, and professionals working in the field of finance. In addition, the training program is supplemented by bringing in a range of speakers across the finance industry. 

The Bottom Line

By offering young women a training program that culminates in a resume-friendly certificate, Hingorani predicts that Girls Who Invest can help pave the way towards recruiters being able to identify promising women candidates in the field easily.