Women ask for promotions, men get them: New study of finance sector is staggering

Women ask for promotions, men get them: New study of finance sector is staggering


A new Australian study has highlighted some alarming gender inequities in the finance industry right now, including women being required to ask for promotions more regularly than their male counterparts to obtain senior roles.

Two thousand industry professionals were surveyed in the study, which was overseen by investment-firm Ardea Investment Management and the Australian National University. 

Bronwen Whiting, a senior lecturer in applied statistics at ANU and one of the researchers in the study, said the pressure cannot singularly be placed on women to fix things in the industry.

She told Bloomberg that the findings offer “evidence of that culture that things come to men without asking,” and underscores institutional gender bias which has historically disfavoured women in the world of finance.

The survey showed 76 percent of men were offered a promotion at least once without asking for it, compared with 57 percent of women. 

“One of the arguments put forward as to why women are paid less is that we are too agreeable,” Laura Ryan, head of research at Ardea Investment Management said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Looks like we are being assertive, but if we are not we definitely miss out. Gender is a strongly significant factor in determining salary.”

The study also revealed that women asked for pay increases and promotions at the same rate as men, though when they do so, there was no difference between men and women in regards to how likely they are to receive them. Despite this, the gap between the likelihood of them receiving it emerged when companies took the action with offering promotions.

Laura Ryan believes that one of the setbacks for women caused by this, is that we often arrive at a later stage in our careers with less savings in our retirement compared to men. 

“It’s not something that we can talk about once a year on International Women’s Day and then forget about it,” Ryan said of this issue.

“While there is all this unconscious bias training and everyone seems to think that the problem is fixed, the results show that it’s definitely not fixed and we still have quite a way to go,” she said. 

The findings from the study show continuous gaps within the workforce, including the trend that sees male fund managers on average earning more than twice as much as female managers.

Based on data collected over the last 24 months, male quantitative research analysts are paid 43 percent more than women, and men in compliance roles earned an additional 76 percent compared to women in compliance roles.

Despite these discouraging results, Australia exceeds many other countries when it comes to narrowing the gender inequality in the workplace. 

In March, consultancy firm Kearney released findings from a study which showed that Australia is among the prominent markets in terms of achieving gender parity in the workplace, performing better than the UK, the US and India.

Australia has eighty-four female Members of Parliament, which constitutes 37 percent of female representation in parliament — figures which overshadow female representation in the UK, where there is currently 34 percent female representation. In fact, according to an analysis of government data, the gap in financial services in the UK far exceeds 20 percent.

Research done by KPMG in September 2019 about the economic value of a more balanced workforce in Australia showed that developing a more gender equitable workforce by increasing female participation may generate up to $60 billion in GDP benefits.

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