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Women Executives in Illinois’ Finance Industry: Examining Barriers to Upward Mobility

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OCTOBER 3, 2019 • UPDATED March 1, 2021

There is a significant gender gap among executives working in the financial services industry. Nationwide, there are less women in management positions involving securities, commodities, and other financial services. Research suggests that this trend continues at the state level, as well. In Illinois, the upward mobility of thousands of women is stagnant. Consequently, this results in there being fewer female candidates who can act as a mentor to newer female employees. Mentorship is important for helping women learn more about the  industry and how best to succeed in their respective roles.

Some of the barriers that women are faced with in the financial services industry help explain why there is a gender gap in executive-level positions. Many financial companies do not offer flexible work schedules. This makes it difficult for women who serve as the caretaker of their families. 

In Illinois, the upward mobility of thousands of women is stagnant.”

As aforementioned, another barrier for women in the finance industry is the lack of female mentorship. Women that work in entry level positions are less likely to have managers and senior leaders act as sponsors. Sponsors can assist employees in advancing to senior positions by serving as an advocate for the employee, providing  professional development support, and creating opportunities for upward mobility in the business. 

Without these opportunities, women finance professionals are less motivated to remain in the industry. Low retention rates among women finance professionals is an issue because it prevents the industry from retaining top female talent which contributes to the widening gender gap. The average total of separations for the financial services industry for 2018 was 28%. This is high compared to most industries. Furthermore, turnover post-training is a waste of a company’s financial resources and creates unnecessary loss of profit.

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