When it comes to pay equality in finance, the glass ceiling remains a ways off.
A recent report placed finance at the top of a list of industries in which women earn the least relative to men. Women in finance make an average of 62.2 percent of what their male counterparts earn.
The report — published by financial news organization 24/7 Wall St. — analyzed 2009 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau. The report also found that women’s relative pay slipped from a peak of 77.8 percent in 2007 to 77 percent in 2009.
According to director of Career Services Patricia Rose, much of this disparity is due to low representation of women in finance.
Men and women “systematically end up in different kinds of jobs,” Management professor Matthew Bidwell said, “and the types of jobs men have tend to be systematically higher paid.”
While College and Wharton junior Barbara Gao does notice considerably fewer women in her finance classes, she has “always felt welcomed at recruitment events.”
“Traditionally, finance is seen as an old boys’ club, but in recent years it’s changing,” Gao said. “I think campus recruiters recognize [the lack of women] and are doing their best to rectify it.”
Still, the long hours mandated by many finance jobs are a deterrent to many women who have or plan to have children, Rose said.
Furthermore, women’s employment patterns differ from men’s, as women are more likely to take time off to raise children or look after elderly parents, Rose said.
“If you step out of the workplace early in your career [to raise children] and come back five years later,” she said, “you’re probably not going to be paid much more than what you were making before, if that, and your chronological peers have moved on.”
Because of this, companies ought to do their best to support their female employees, Gao said, and try to maintain contact during their absences.
In addition to taking time away from work, Rose said women are often less willing to negotiate pay than men, which can result in lower average salaries.
Discrimination, too, can play a factor — particularly when there is greater discretion in pay, Bidwell said.
“As soon as we start introducing performance pay, there’s a bigger role for hidden biases and unconscious prejudices to play a role,” Bidwell said, though he said he believes this plays only a small role in pay inequality.
In industries like finance, where there are fewer women to begin with, Rose said it can be “easier for sexism to raise its head.”
Lastly, Bidwell said it is important to note that because finance is such a “heterogeneous sector,” the analysis can be misleading.
The people included in the data set range from “bank tellers, who earn very little, to hedge fund managers, who earn huge sums of money,” Bidwell said.
Statistically, the bank tellers are more likely to be women and the managers are more likely to be men, he said. This impacts the study’s results but does not provide a direct wage comparison.Comments powered by Disqus
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