East Bay Financial Expert says that even in the 21st century, women are outnumbered 8-to-1 by men. Despite modest gains, gender-bias remains strong in the world of finance.November 19, 2012 by Reg Carter
Although the industry has moved far from smoke-filled clubs that allowed men only, there is still a large discrepancy between the number of men versus women in a traditionally male-dominated profession.
Noted East Bay financial expert Michelle Perry Higgins finds the trend troubling. Ms Higgins was quoted in the November 9, 2012 issue of the Wall Street Journal saying “We’re seeing some improvement in removing the glass ceiling for women as financial advisors, but this industry’s gender gap is narrowing at a snail’s pace.”
According to a recent survey by Cerulli Associates, women represent just 7.9% of women in the U.S. advisory occupation. Ms Higgins believes there are several factors at work that discourage women from joining the ranks of female financial advisors.
“I just don’t believe that young women are encouraged to pursue finance as a career option,” she said. “I recently read an article saying that at the university level the majors still followed traditional gender lines – women in the “helping” professions and men in engineering and business. Even in the 21st century, if female college students think that there are no women in finance, they won’t go into that field.”
Ms. Higgins also agrees that there are unique demands placed on working women. “There are a lot of outside pressures that often go unrecognized,” she said. “From raising kids to taking care of parents, women are always multitasking. For some, it can be a lot to handle.”
However, Ms. Higgins does believe that more women should consider her profession as a viable career option. “Women are taught from an early age to be nurturing and caring,” she said. “I believe that women are naturally good at this job because they usually have good people skills and good listening skills. Two of the hallmarks of success in this profession. There is no doubt, this industry is worth it if you can weather the storm.”
She also adds that her relationship with her partners is invaluable. “I am fortunate to work in a supportive environment with strong partners. Even though I am the only female advisory representative (and principal), I feel comfortable expressing my business needs.”