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Women in Finance Paid Less for Comparable Work; More Are Reporting Pay Disparities

Women who work in finance say there are no better off than in 2002, according to a survey by the New York-based Financial Women’s Association. In some areas, women might actually be worse off.

March 7, 2008
Women who work in finance say there are no better off than in 2002, according to a survey by a Manhattan-based organization. In some areas, women might actually be worse off.

In the survey, conducted among 259 members of the 1,000-member Financial Women’s Association, 96 percent said they believe women are paid less than men for comparable work.

Nearly two-thirds consider their gender a factor that holds them back in their careers, and many cited a lack of access to decision-makers, mentors, or type of assignments critical for career advancement. Entrepreneurs also felt they had limited access to funding sources need to start a business.

“The FWA study indicates that women in finance-related careers continue to find themselves hindered in their treatment as equal partners in the workplace,” says Lily Klebanoff Blake, president of the Association.

When asked whether certain business conditions were better today than three years ago, only 10 percent of women believed issues of pay parity had improved, compared with 20 percent of women in the Association’s 2002 survey.

Overall, compared with the 2002 survey, a greater percentage of women said conditions had not improved in several key areas: the number of females on Fortune 500 boards, the presence of corporate or government programs that addressing working women’s issues, and firms’ provisions for on-site childcare.

Among the obstacles perceived to be mitigating women’s career advancement were access to flex time/part-time, corporate culture, female stereotypes, family obligations and lack of line-management experience.

Other factors included issues of “old boys” networks, women not supporting other women and a lack of mentors. Respondents also cited issues related to “not being political or knowing how to play the game,” “own fears/lack of self confidence” and ethnicity.

Blake noted the industry has seen progress in many issues related to women and the workplace, but said on whole the industry has to follow through significantly on these ongoing efforts. For example, she said that much more work is necessary for granting women access to informal decision makers in their companies as well as career-developing opportunities here and overseas.

“A lot has been done, but a lot more still needs to be done in these areas,” she says.

Filed by Tommy Fernandez of Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.