This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY News.
Can young women aspire to be what they’ve never seen? Why do women only apply for jobs only if they meet 100% of the qualifications while men apply for a job when they only meet 60%? With the goal to inspire and aspire, the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) together with the Investment Society (InvestSoc) hosted the Women In Finance event whereby a diverse panel of six formidable women tackled the issue and redress of gender imbalance through sharing the challenges they’ve overcome, the trends they see emerging in the Finance industry and some words of wisdom for young women.
Kaluba Chikonde is an international student from Zambia who’s currently a UCT Master of Philosophy (MPhil) candidate in Data Science specializing in Financial Technology. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Business Science (BBusSci) in Analytics with Statistics Honours from UCT. Jessica Endekovski is working at Standard Bank as a graduate trainee in Global Markets. She holds an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and a MPhil in Mathematical Finance, both from UCT. Makhotso Ramphele is the Sales Vice President in JP Morgan’s Securities Services business. Her focus is on developing solutions for financial institution clients in Sub-Saharan Africa which include Central Banks, Asset Managers and Pension Funds. Makhotso has an MBA (cum laude) and Post Graduate Diploma from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and a B.Com in Economics and Finance from UCT. Meeta Gosai is a qualified actuary specialising in investments and a Portfolio Manager at Old Mutual Investment Group’s LDI (Liability Driven Investments) boutique, managing over R30Bn of assets. Tsistsi Hatendi Matika is the Head Retail Investment Specialist for Wealth and Investment Management at ABSA and lastly, Monei Pudumo-Roos is the CEO and founding member of Ngwedi Investment Managers.
Studies by several organisations around the world have highlighted the real bottom line benefits of having gender-balanced and diverse teams in the work place. Unfortunately, women in the financial industry remain vastly underrepresented. This begs the question, Why are there so few women in Finance both in University and in the corporate world? A survey was conducted at the Women in Finance event to understand what would stop one from pursuing a career in finance. The event attracted young women across all disciplines (Commerce, Science, Engineering and so on). Out of the 40 students who took part in the survey, 46% said they just haven’t considered it yet and 36% said that they are scared that they will fail. Interestingly, when asked whether they are intimidated by the thought of entering a male-dominated industry, 74% said that they are not intimidated. This highlights the importance of the exposure to a diverse set of positive role models and some key biases and stereotypes that prevail in our society. Girls are strongly socialized to “follow the rules” and only get rewarded when they do so. This habit of “following the rules” can become a significant barrier when it comes to adhering to the “who should apply” guidelines. In addition, young women need to see more diverse local examples or role models whose presence will resonate with them in order for them to be inspired and envision themselves with those positive qualities. Research shows that when an individual feels that the role model exemplified has attained an unreachable status, this can be demoralizing to the individual.
The aim of the Women in Finance event was to have an open inter-generational discussion about the barriers to entry which are faced by women in finance and how we can overcome them. This was achieved by showcasing a diverse panel of role models who shared their inspiring stories to motivate, interest and inspire young women to pursue careers in Finance in spite of their degrees, gender, nationalities, cultures, biases and other factors which they feel are inhibitors of success in the corporate world for “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson