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Feminine Finance

Do you know that until 2018 a woman had not been nominated for an Oscar in Cinematography?

A few days back I read an article celebrating the anniversary of Rosalind Franklin [1]– the woman whose contribution to the world of DNA Study still helps scientists and historians to conduct their research. Even so, in the middle of the 20th century, her work was not recognized because of her gender. After her death, her much deserved Nobel Prize was awarded to three men who based their study on her work themselves.

Even in the 21st century, discrimination on the basis of gender is still prevalent. From carpentry to firefighting, electricians to engineers, computer programmers to cinematographers - many sectors still remain male-dominated. Though there has been an increase in the number of opportunities available for women, we still have a long way to go to achieve equality. Moreover, male-dominated workspace is an issue of the developed countries as much as it is an issue of the developing and the backward countries

One sector that is imperative to the functioning of any economy is Finance. In order to have a stable and healthy economy, a balanced and sound financial sector is needed. But even with the due importance given to this sector, less attention is paid to its male-dominated culture.

Worldwide, a majority of people believe that women are just not “interested” in finance. This just drives home the fact that not only households but workplaces are too riddled with stereotypes. And if one comes to think of squeezing out these stereotypical norms, that itself is going to be a hard feat to achieve. Though, the world now has seen a number of female leaders but with the drive to fight for equality and to acquire an equivalent footing, less attention is paid to such inherent presuppositions.

While researching about the correlation between gender diversity and finance, I came across this engrossing paper- “Stock Market Reaction to Female CEO Nominations: Is the Market Gendered?” by François Longin and Estefania Santacreu-Vasut (2019) [2]. As the name suggests they have talked about how the stock market is “gendered”. Their findings report that when a female CEO is appointed, the females react positively (they buy stocks), while the males react negatively (they sell stocks). As the number of male participants is higher in the stock market, naturally a majority of the stock market would react negatively to the appointment of female CEOs. Hence, gender differences give way to gender biases.

The negative reaction is also due to the biased perception towards the possession of cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Science has proven that gender differences do exist. Females are proven to be more verbally fluent whereas males are considered to be better at mathematical reasoning. Recent researches have also stated gender differences in the bargaining styles and level of overconfidence. However, these differences do not prove the incapability of any gender to efficiently participate in a stock market. Moreover, a lot banks upon how the brain of a child is impacted and how this development affects his or her skills in later years. A research [3] specified the impact of the society on the growth of child’s brain. It was frightening to discover that a majority of parents were found to believe less in their daughters’ mathematical abilities. Unrecognized talent at a tender age forms preconceived notions in a person’s mind which might prevent one from experimenting with new career avenues. Research also suggests that cognitive skills that show gender differences may be quite malleable.

Another alleged reason for the under-representation of females in the financial market is that women are considered to be more risk-averse [4]. In the 20th century, experiments were conducted which proved that men are more willing to take risks and women who want to maintain stability in their households would not be as willing to do so. But recent researches claim that such difference might have been exaggerated. This directly correlates with the rise in educated women which makes them capable to make well-informed decisions and hence take risks.

Education still remains one of the topmost priorities to eradicate these differences. In many countries, women tend to contribute more towards the management of household expenses. Imparting financial education to women and increasing their participation in financial markets becomes all the more important in order to benefit households and communities.

The need for a diversified workforce cannot be stressed enough. An influx of fresh ideas and different viewpoints will not only help in the growth of the financial sector but will also smoothen the processes involved. Although, financial inclusion alone cannot bring absolute gender equality, but equality in providing basic services for development can prove to be a huge growth catalyst in the coming years.

Hopefully, as we progress, gender studies would not just be restricted to male or female.

As quoted by Maya Angelou “We are more similar than different” – the world needs to adopt this view and only then can we overcome our disagreements.

Works Cited:

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Author: Yukta Sharma

Yukta is an Economics enthusiast and is pursuing a degree in Management Studies. She has grown up surrounded with books and tries to incorporate a creative style to her writing as well.

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