Wall Street wants more female traders, but perceptions die hard

WALL STREET, WALL STREET WOMEN EMPLOYER, GENDER GAP, PRIYA KARANI, BARCLAYSAs a biomedical engineering student at Duke University, Priya Karani thought she did not have the right skills to break into the heavily male-dominated field of Wall Street trading.“I was never interested in a career in trading at a bank because I didn’t know it was an option,” Karani said.A decade later, Karani is a director at Barclays PLC in New York where she trades healthcare derivatives and helps the bank’s effort to attract more women to trading by talking to female college students about her job.Despite such efforts Karani still represents a small minority since few women apply for jobs in trading, deterred by its decades-old reputation as an “alpha-male territory” and misconceptions about skills it requires. “Trading is a hard one to crack,” said Jon Regan, a head of global markets for executive search firm Sheffield Haworth. “I don’t think it has changed much, although firms are working hard to improve their gender ratios.”The firm, which works for many leading investment banks and conducts studies on behalf of its clients, found women generally account for 12 to 15 percent of trading roles, he said.There are no industry-wide data but the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which oversees U.S. brokerages, said women accounted for about 28 percent of individuals registered with it at the end of 2017. Those numbers include not just traders, but also investment advisers.Banks’ efforts to change that have intensified over the past year with the emergence of the #MeToo movement and growing shareholder calls for disclosures on workforce diversity.For example, Citigroup Inc and Bank of America Corp released information on diversity and gender pay gap for the first time this year in response to calls from an investment advisory firm. 

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Since last year, major employers have also been obliged to report gender pay gap data for their British operations, which for banks showed women underrepresented in higher earning roles. Barclays’ Sophomore Springboard program that Karani supports is one of several initiatives banks have introduced recently to make trading rooms more diverse.Citigroup Inc does college recruitment focused on informing young women about trading careers and offers them interview coaching, while JPMorgan Chase & Co has been running an internal program for the past two years called Women Who Trade, which offers networking for female traders of all levels, including potential recruits. “We are doing a better job at ensuring analyst classes have a better intake (of women),” said Claudia Jury, global co-head of currencies and emerging markets at JPMorgan and a senior sponsor for the program. The bank has hired around 30 women through the program since 2016, it said. 
Source: Business Standard