Where are all the women?

Bethany Rutter

I’m new to these parts. I haven’t been around here long. But in the three months I’ve worked as a financial journalist, I’ve noticed an all-too-predictable imbalance in the people we write about, in the people who are visible and represented in the industry. Where are all the women?

Three out of the four currently on Money Management’s editorial team are women. When I look around my floor at FT Towers there’s no shortage of us. Most of the PRs who contact me are women. 100 per cent of the PRs who have run 100 per cent of the events I’ve attended have been women. Beyond the press and the media relations industry, however, it seems as if there’s something of a barrier. Almost every single ‘expert’ I’ve seen represent a company in financial services has been a man.

The gender imbalance was particularly noticeable when I was collating the entrants and shortlist for our Financial Planner of the Year Awards. A warm sense of relief washed over me when I thought to myself, “excellent: women have done well this year.” It was only when I looked again at the shortlist that I realised there was a grand total of three women out of 17. I had grown so used to the underrepresentation of female advisers that I’d quietly convinced myself that 17.6 per cent of the shortlist being women was a victory. It’s telling that the only way I could restore my buoyancy was by reminding myself “well Bethany, at least it could be worse– at least there are some women” as if that was comforting.

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There’s seldom a logical reason for gendered underrepresentation in a particular industry, and financial services is no different. We take for granted that it’s something of a ‘boys’ club’ but don’t ask ourselves why. It’s easy to pull out a few names of visible female advisers, for example, but we need to get those numbers up. Female advisers should absolutely enter awards, put themselves forward and represent themselves. This is an industry where women can and should engage and flourish in equal numbers to men.