The investment banking industry

100,000 plus per year, personal fulfilment and a sense of achievement. Who could complain? Yet many women who work in the Investment Banking Industry feel discontented in the city. Yes it’s hard to believe that all isn’t so great for the women who have fought long and hard to get into the industry which is traditionally male dominated. Women now outnumber men in most cities throughout the world and more of these women are opting for 3rd level education and are increasingly taking on jobs in the Investment Banking Industry.

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I will go on to examine how and why women still face bullying, sexual harassment etc in the workplace in 2006. The most popular approach concerning the explanation of gender inequalities is a scientific one. Goldberg (1979) argues that “the interaction of the nervous system with the hormone system is the biological basis of male dominance”. (Pilcher, 2000, pg. 5) However the Penguin Dictionary of Sociology argues that “If the sex of a person is biologically determined, the gender of a person is socially and culturally constructed”. (Nicholas, 2000, pg. 149)

The inequalities faced by women today can be traced back to patriarchal capitalism. For two hundred years, patriarchy has excluded women from having a legal or political identity. Throughout history the roles of males and females have been dictated through divisions of gender. Hartman 1981 argues that the basis of male power in our social system is mans control over female labour. Origins of gender inequalities can also be traced back to the formation of trade unions. When trade unions were developing men believed that if women were to take on their jobs it would devalue their jobs.

Therefore women found themselves excluded from trade unions, and in turn their power was limited even further. Cockburn 1985 believes this process allowed the labour market to become highly male dominated. The inequalities women face can also be linked to the influence of society on us as children. Many children are taught that women stay at home and do household duties while the men go to work to earn money to keep their families. Even the bible indicates that women should not be over a man. So before we enter the workforce we all have been influenced in some way of thinking about the ideal role of a women and a man.

However many things have changed over the years and so should discrimination in the workplace. Organisational culture is one factor that is prolonging the inequalities that women have faced for years in the workplace and is the reason why these inequalities are still existing today. Hale (1999 pg. 13) believes that discrimination in a work place is held in place by informal networks within organisations. This is made possible because women often find themselves in lower status jobs and are excluded from such networks. McGuire (2000 pg.

1) makes it clear that women find it extremely difficult to enter these networks and so the inequalities are prolonged. Organisational culture also encourages male promotion and for this reason men tend to feel promotions are more important than women do. Investment Banking has always favoured males and it is difficult to break this trend. Women were thought to have been the weaker sex and better suited to home life with the children. When this norm is broken it is difficult for the female worker to build the same relationship with her manager as a male colleague would.

Maume (1999, pg. 4) suggests that it is better for men to work with men. Many organisations have failed to see that a diverse work force would excel and the results would be much greater. It has also been found that men themselves don’t want women doing jobs that are equal to theirs and often takes steps to prevent it from happening. Many organisations don’t even see the inequalities that plaque their workforce. However many companies only promote an image of equal employment opportunities and often only employ females to meet requirements.

Barely a day goes by without a newspaper article about the investment banking industry and their unfair treatment towards female bankers. Women have been bullied and sexually harassed to the point where they have felt suicidal. The story of Diana Woodward featured in the Evening Standard on 15. 10. 04. Ms Woodward lost her i?? 100,000 a year job with Abbey National after her boss said he did not want her “aborting all over the place” after she suffered a miscarriage.. Ms Woodward claimed that senior managers destroyed her city career.

Ms Woodward referred to her manager as a ‘chauvinist bully’. She was awarded i?? 1 million in compensation and lost earnings. Another story of how cruel the investment banking industry can be is that of Sue Temple which featured in The Guardian on 19. 03. 05. Ms Temple who worked for the finance company Nomura returned from maternity leave to find that she had been made redundant. Ms Temple had been in the past asked to wear short skirts to work and to give male colleagues massages. Ms Temple was awarded i?? 70,000 for unfair dismissal.

Yet again the banks behaving badly had come to the forefront. Laws and guidelines have been set down to try and eradicate gender inequality in the workplace and many places do adhere to these however many just do so to pass the guidelines. When women succeed in the difficult task of getting into the Investment Banking Industry they then face what is know as a ‘Glass Ceiling’. This is an invisible barrier that prevents women from moving up the ladder within the organisation. (Baxter & Wright, 2000) So women often find themselves stuck in low status jobs within highly successful organisations.

On the other hand men are met with ‘Glass Escalators’. where they can just keep moving up the ladder with nothing in their way. Maume (1999, pg3) claimed that men ascend to managerial levels with little effort. The way in which jobs are ranked also affects women’s ability to progress up the hierarchy. Employers tend to rank jobs according to skills and commitment whereas employees rank them according to desirability and rewards. (Maume, 1999, pg. 3) This often leads to an unfair process when picking the best applicant for the job.

Women often have to meet higher standards than men to stand a chance of getting the job (Hale, 1999, pg. 8) It is thought that women only move into male dominated jobs if market conditions change and employers are forced to employ women to fill the job or if men leave the job to further their career. The discrimination that is found by women in the Investment Banking Industry is common in most primary sector jobs. This sector has highly paid jobs and the industry is unionised. Within this industry women struggle to better themselves.

However on the other hand is the secondary sector where the workers are low skilled and non unionised. There seems to be less discrimination towards women in this industry. One possible reason for this is that the male managers here don’t resent the workers as it is clear they are well below them on the hierarchy. This helps boost their morale and makes them feel the dominant sex. It is difficult to understand that women continue to face such discrimination in this day and age. Why hasn’t the Equal Employment Opportunity Act which as passed in 1972 changed anything?

Why isn’t this policy being implemented? One reason for this is that the main power holders in government tend to be males and therefore they favour a male dominated workforce. Politicians gain economically from the Investment banking industry therefore they want the Industry to be efficiently run and they feel this can only be done by males. For example, a Russian Labour Minister asked “Why should we employ women when me are unemployed”. This opinion is felt by many men within power but most prefer to keep their opinions to themselves.

Women have faced discrimination in the Investment Banking Industry for many decades and we can see that the inequalities are still present today. So when is this discrimination going to stop? The only way forward is to allow women to integrate fully into areas that are now traditionally male dominated. This is the only way to break the glass ceiling that is currently in place. There also needs to be a drive from civil rights associations to lobby governments into fully implementing Equal Opportunity Policies. There needs to be dramatic changes made within companies to ensure women can progress as well as men within an organisation.

Implementing these changes will not be easy but it will in time show great benefits for the Investment Banking Industry and any other organisations that are willing to change. Society as a whole requires men and women to work together for the betterment of everyone.


Baxter, Janeen and Erik Olin Wright, 2000, The Glass Ceiling Hypothesis, Gender and Society Hale, Mary, 1999. He Say’s She Say’s: Gender and Work life McGuire, Gail M. 2000 Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Networks Maume, Jr. David, 1999. Glass Ceiling and Glass Escalators