While in the past few decades, a world of opportunity has opened up for women in terms of our options for career paths and entry into leadership positions, there continues to be room for improvement. In fact, according to January 2015 research performed by Pew Research Center, women make up only 5% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. Furthermore, certain fields like finance and technology continue to be heavily male-dominated.
We need to be more active about encouraging our girls and young women to explore “non-traditional” career paths that align with their talents and interests. While I was always strong in math growing up, the idea of going into quantitative finance was never really an option for me as this would have been considered a male dominated profession. But the world is quite different now. This is why, as a mother of two young daughters, I am focused on opening their minds to the idea that they really have the opportunity to be anything they want to be.
There are many great programs being put into place that open new job possibilities to young women and help build their self-confidence to explore more typically male-dominated professions. One example is the software coding programs run by many tech organizations, which are aimed at exposing students to new potential career paths in areas that are only growing in demand. Facebook offers Girls Teaching Girls to Code, an annual code camp where high school girls can explore their interest in computer science and engineering. Additionally, Google runs a program called Technovation, which gives girls around the world the opportunity to develop their own apps and submit them for competition.
Even in the realm of politics, we’ve recently seen a dramatic uptick in the number of women holding office. Just a week ago in Canada, our 23rd Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was sworn into office. True to his word, Trudeau appointed women to 15 positions, making up half of the total of his 31-person cabinet (including himself). When asked to comment on the gender-equal composition of the cabinet, Trudeau simply stated, “It’s 2015.”
Furthermore, there are numerous companies out there that are very aware and active about promoting gender diversity within the workforce. Here at FINCAD, I am proud to say that three out of seven individuals on our Executive Team are women. We are also working to support women through our Women in Finance Scholarship, which is awarded annually. The goal of the program is to encourage and support outstanding women in the field of finance, particularly relating to the use of derivatives in capital markets and financial risk management. This $10,000 award is given to one deserving woman per calendar year, helping them offset the cost of pursuing a graduate-level finance degree.
Writing this post sparked my curiosity on how certain women forge careers that have been traditionally male-oriented. So I decided to check in with one of our Derivatives Analysts, a very talented woman by the name of Christine Jakshoej. “I would say that if you have a natural proclivity towards mathematics, finance is definitely a promising area for a woman to pursue. Personally, I was in this boat, as I am one who enjoys working with numbers over words any day. So, after graduating with a general business degree, I decided to go back to school and earn my Masters of Financial Risk Management. I believe this was a good decision, as particularly in the financial centers of the world, there are enormous opportunities available in this sector,” said Christine.
She went on to comment, “One bit of advice I would give women, or anyone really, looking to enter finance, is to make sure you are passionate about this field because you can’t always guarantee a 9 to 5 workday. But for those that are truly passionate, I can say the rewards are real. In my role, I derive a great deal of satisfaction from working with diverse clients and helping them solve their business challenges. I can honestly say that no two days are the same, and that is the type of work environment I enjoy and thrive in.”
“I think FINCAD’s scholarship program is great because many women might not consider entering a male-dominated field like finance. Programs like this give women an extra incentive and financial boost to get ahead and try something new, perhaps outside their comfort zone.” concluded Christine.
For more information on FINCAD’s scholarship program, check out our press release: FINCAD Announces 2015 Women in Finance Scholarship Winner