It’s International Women’s Day today. Women are scarce in the investing field – so scarce, in fact, that a man is writing this article about International Women’s Day – and even in the household there is substantial evidence to suggest that there is a significant difference between genders when it comes to financial control and decisions.
Fairfax media published an article this morning bemoaning the lack of women in investing, and it’s well known among those who have worked in finance that women are scarce. The Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has published a variety of research and surveys on the financial field.
In this survey from 2014, respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the statement:
“It is almost impossible for women to progress to executive level in such a male-dominated culture as financial services.”
Around 85% of men disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement, compared to only 41% of women. To flip that result around, 40% of women agreed or strongly agreed that it was nearly impossible for women to progress to the executive level in financial service (the other 19% were neutral).
Furthermore, 54% of women agreed or strongly agreed that “The expectation that female employees will at some stage leave to have children means less attention is given to their advancement.“
Some reports also suggest that the number of women who study financial disciplines like economics has dropped off sharply in recent decades.
Gee, the financial industry sure sounds unfriendly towards women! And historically, it has been. Michael Lewis’ book Liar’s Poker, the seminal book about the wheeling and dealing at US investment banks in the 1980s, even goes so far as to say, “sexual harassment was accepted, sexual deviance was not.”
However, that is changing rapidly, with the push from large investors like Jacqueline Fernley at Colonial First State Asset Management (owned by Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and one of the largest asset managers in Australia). Ms Fernley was quoted in the media this morning as saying:
“”We’re not saying women are better or worse, we’re just saying that when you add them to a team you get the benefit for the group… It’s very clear that a diverse team will make better decisions and have better outcomes than a homogeneous all-male team or a homogeneous all-women team.”
We couldn’t agree more.
As we wrote in an article, “The Best Investors Are Dead Or Female“, studies, such as that from Professor Terry Odean of the University of California, found that single women outperform single men in investing —on average — by 2.3% per year.
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