Wall Street finally hired its first female CEO — and data says it could open up careers for women across finance. Here’s how.

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On Thursday, Citigroup announced that Jane Fraser would succeed Mike Corbat as CEO when he retires in February 2021.

Fraser is currently the president of Citigroup and the CEO of Global Consumer Banking. She’ll be the first woman to lead a major US bank. And her promotion could change the career trajectories of many women in finance today — or so the research says.

Management material

For centuries, banking has been helmed largely by white men. A 2019 Deloitte report indicates that, in 2019, just 21.9% of leaders within US financial services firms were women. Yet women make up more than half of financial-services employees in the US.

There’s a certain structural inertia in banking, as in other prestigious professions: White men in power shepherd junior white men up through the ranks until, eventually, those underlings take their places.

Women — and for that matter, anyone else who deviates from the mold — are less often seen as “management material.” Sometimes that’s because the people in power are genuinely prejudiced. Other times it’s because most people — even with good intentions — gravitate toward people who look and act like they do, so much so that white women and professionals of color are forced to contort themselves to white, male norms of behavior in order to be acceptable in the polite society of the corporate management class.

When a woman takes on a top executive role, people’s mental image of a leader expands to accommodate that. And women lower on the proverbial ladder see that someone who looks like them has risen to the top. Maybe they can, too.

Picture a leader

You could call it the “picture-a-leader” test. It’s simple: Ask a friend to draw an effective leader. Chances are high that your friend drew a man.

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That’s at least partly because most of the leaders we encounter daily are men — men who think and act a certain way.

“An effective senior banker is (wrongly) imagined to be aggressive, dominating, transactional,” Astrid Jaekel and Elizabeth St-Onge, partners at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, wrote in The Harvard Business Review in 2016. These characteristics “are stereotypically masculine,” they add.

Indeed, Melinda Gates nearly quit a job at Microsoft early in her career because she was the only woman hired in the incoming class of MBAs. “It wasn’t always easy for me to feel at home in an environment where people seemed to get rewarded for being combative,” she’s said.

Deloitte’s analysis found that the number of women in senior leadership increased threefold for every woman who was added to the C-suite. That is to say, if a company with one woman in the C-suite has 10 women in senior leadership, you could expect a company with two women in the C-suite to have 30 women in senior leadership.

And a 2010 paper published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics found that female students at the US Air Force Academy who had female professors in math and science classes were more …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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