What Factors Impact the Career Advancement of Women Managers in Banking

Topics: Bank, Gender, Gender role Pages: 10 (2857 words) Published: July 18, 2012


Let’s face the damningly unholy truth – banks are machoistic organizations littered with vain and pompous characters that strong arm their way to the leadership cadre with no regard or respect for the weaker sex! And, this a not just confined to one country or one particular region, it is a global ‘epidemic’, a universal truth, especially in the developed world.

While women in some cases outnumber men in overall employment context in banks, the female gender’s advancement is hampered by the ‘man-made culture’ that retards any chances of growth and well-being that would enable career enhancement or moving toward greater leadership roles.

Whereas men love to play golf in the mornings and won’t start work until way into the midday, women are busy meeting family obligations right from the crack of dawn when the baby starts crying waiting for the diaper to be changed! Women love early morning shifts since they want to be back home around the time when the school bus drops the kids back home. However, the problem is that banks do not have any early shifts with the exception of some spurious, back office positions that not many qualify to get anyway.

Same holds true when it comes to number of hours worked. That’s another man-made ‘law’, a silent rule that is based on the rationale that working astronomically long hours only enhances one’s prestige and possibly chances of growth. Women are averse to accepting/adapting to this idea too!

Although some say that the Wall Street could have been a better place had women managed it or, as for that matter, the European banking crisis could have been averted had Christine Lagarde been sitting at the helm of at least the Portuguese, Italian and Greek finance ministries, the purpose of this discussion is not to point fingers to but to analyze what factors contribute to career advancement and what can possibly be done to improve the chances of women advancing to leadership roles in the banking industry.

In the proceeding pages, we talk about the major factors that influence career advancement, such as, individual, interpersonal and organizational, in banks. There is an added emphasis on the ‘human capital’ element that’s about enriching one’s skills by effective methods of training and technical knowhow. Educational background, just like in any other corporate environment, has a strong impact vis-à-vis making progress in the banking industry as well.

We will also shed light on how deeply women get effected when life changes happen and when partners, husbands, kids, dependents make an appearance thereby ‘demanding’ time and energy. Interestingly, women with family obligations that are able to acquire domestic help are relatively better placed compared to those without domestic assistance. This provides them with an edge and hence brightens their chances of growth.

Finally, there are suggestions that point toward banks possibly introducing some changes in their setups, such as reconsidering the well ingrained ‘cultural norm’ of working atrociously long hours that basically ruin any chances of women advancing to a leadership role!

Needless to say, this discussion is a humble effort to take a closer ‘women-centric’ look at the female advancement and leadership aspects of the banking industry.


Despite their growth in terms of numbers, at various rungs of management in the banking sector, women still remain an unrepresented commodity in the advanced world (Tharenou, 1999). It is becoming increasingly important that bank managements pay heed to the issues related to the female workforce development, in order to effectively manage this integral portion of the professional population (Metz, 2003).

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