I-Banking: Why Are There So Few Women?

Negotiation

In preparation for my summer internship on Wall Street I have been reading numerous articles on women within the industry.  Over the course of my research, I was surprised to learn how few women there actually are in investment banking, and was even more startled to realize that the number decreases steadily further up the ranks.  In her article on women in investment banking for nerdwallet.com, Susan Lyon writes, “according to a 2011 Vault survey of the 75 leading I-banks in North America, 25% [of employees] are women.”[1]  There are several reasons and explanations that Lyon came up with in attempting to explain this gender gap. Women on average earn about 77 cents for every dollar that men make, but within the I-banking industry this figure can be as low as 55 to 62 cents. This difference may be due to the more aggressive salary negotiation requirements within the industry, an area in which women rarely advocate for themselves as much as they should.

I am fortunate enough to attend a women’s college where these problems are addressed in and outside of the classroom. There are numerous negotiation workshops offered and there is a strong mentoring network that involves alumnae in various industries. Within my Women, Business, and Leadership Development course we had to go through various negotiation scenarios and then were required to analyze data on how few women negotiate compared to men. The least us women can do is ask, “Is this number/salary negotiable?”  Yet many women are too scared to take this crucial first step. Why is this? It is important to take into account that this first step can be nerve-racking for a lot of women, especially ones that are not used to pushing for what they want. Some steps that can be taken to combat this nerve-racking situation and keep calm, is practice, practice, practice, and do research on the salary that is normal for the position offered. Some helpful websites are glassdoor.com and payscale.com, there are many more great ones out there. By knowing your own worth when going into a salary negotiation, knowing a job’s typical salary, and by practicing beforehand, your salary negotiation will go the way you want it to!

Not only do women receive a lower salary than men, but the difficulties of a successful work-life balance often force many women to choose between a fulfilling career and a family. On top of these aspects there is a personality double standard for women. For many people being a woman and a good wife does not go along with being a successful investment banker. The aggressive personality that is required within the industry is not the personality that most men want to see in their wives at home. So how can a woman be a great investment banker while still being a loving wife and mother? We need to figure out the answer to this question ourselves on a one to one basis. There are women who can do it, so we should be able to do it too especially if is a dream job!

Pia Matthes

Mount Holyoke College

 

[1] http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/2013/women-in-investment-banking-gender-gap/

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