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Is Finance A Good Career Path For Women In Business?

Find out the benefits of a career in finance, how companies and business schools are fostering gender diversity, and how to get ahead as a woman in business


Tue Dec 19 2023

With international travel opportunities, high salaries, and lucrative career paths, a career in finance is certainly an attractive choice for women in business.

While the finance industry is historically male-dominated, finance companies are increasingly recognizing the necessity of fostering gender diversity and putting measures in place to empower and equip women to progress to leadership positions. 

There’s still a long way to go to reach gender parity across the industry but there are some promising advancements being made. Ernst & Young conducted a survey of European financial service businesses and found that the gender split at board level stands at 58% male and 42% female as of January 2023. 

Business schools too are closing the gender gap in finance by giving women in business invaluable insights into the industry through connections with female leaders, learning the skills to negotiate salaries and get ahead, and building strong networks via student-led clubs. 

So, is finance a good career path for women in business? 

The pros and cons of a career in finance 

Pursuing a career in finance offers the chance to work in a dynamic and evolving industry. As finance companies across the world adapt to keep up with new technologies and sustainability regulations, the industry offers the chance for employees to challenge themselves and innovate. 

Many MBA and business master’s grads also choose careers in finance for the attractive salaries and career progression opportunities. 

While it’s no secret that women have historically been disadvantaged in these areas, major finance firms are making a clear effort to ensure female employees have access to the same opportunities and are transparent regarding employee compensation. 

JP Morgan’s Women on the Move initiative focuses on recruiting and retaining female employees at all levels. The company also publishes a gender pay gap report

What’s more, while a career in finance may typically be associated with long hours, the move to hybrid working now offers more opportunity for flexibility. 

Increasing gender diversity in the finance industry 

There is still a long way to go until there is gender equality in the finance industry but companies are recognizing the necessity of diversity and implementing initiatives and setting goals to increase representation. 

For example, Goldman Sachs offers training to help recognize biases in the workplace and training and career support for women in business and minorities to encourage retention and aid progression. 

More finance companies are also increasing the transparency of female representation in leadership positions. Deloitte reports that 25% of its member firm partners, principals and managing directors are female, with the goal of reaching 30% by 2025. 

Business schools are also working to prepare and empower future female finance leaders by making the education and experience necessary to succeed more accessible. 

BI Norwegian Business School offers The Women in Finance and Tech Scholarship to female master’s applicants to help target the gender imbalance in these industries. The award covers full tuition fees for two years. 

“We want to encourage and support young female talent. A scholarship first recognizes the student’s potential and then allows the recipient to concentrate on her studies and the many extra-curricular activities that will help her build her network and her confidence,” says Shani Pearson, Senior Advisor at BI. 

Career paths for women in finance 

There is a diverse range of career paths to pursue in the finance industry from investment banking to accounting to private equity. Plus, with the rise of artificial intelligence and financial technologies as well as a focus on green finance, there has been a surge in non-traditional finance roles too. 

It’s no doubt an exciting time to be launching a finance career. However, the industry is as competitive as ever so aspiring finance professionals need to bolster their skillset to give themselves an advantage. 

Business school offers the chance to learn specialist skills and gain a business-oriented understanding of emerging trends. A business degree will also help you stand out to employers. According to GMAC, 70% of corporate recruiters say business school graduates fast-track to leadership positions. 

BI offers a range of programs for aspiring finance professionals including its Master of Finance, Master of Quantitative Finance, Master of Sustainable Finance, and Master of Business with a finance major at its campuses in Bergen and Oslo. Each program has elective courses so students can deep-dive into areas that align with their career goals. There is also the opportunity to undertake an internship and gain real-world experience. 

BI Graduates have landed roles as financial analysts, data analysts, consultants, and banking associates at top companies such as McKinsey & Company, Norges Bank, and Ernst & Young. 

How can women in business succeed in finance? 

Building a strong network is essential for any professional in any industry. However, for women in typically male-dominated industries, it is even more valuable. 

Forging connections with female leaders, colleagues and peers in your cohort can be invaluable for 

According to research by Deloitte, the ‘multiplier effect’ impacts female representation in the finance industry. This means that for each woman promoted to C-suite, there’s an increase in the number of women in senior leadership positions and so on. 

This emphasizes the importance of role models as a means of empowering other women to strive for promotions and climb the career ladder. 

At BI, the student-led Women in Finance Student Association welcome a monthly guest speaker to share their experience of being a woman in the finance industry and insights on how to succeed. Most recently, Kjerstin Braathen the CEO of DNB—Norway’s largest financial services group—visited campus. 

DNB has reached gender parity in the group’s management team and is recognized as Europe’s best company for diversity in the banking and financial services sector by the Financial Times

“Breaking down barriers, supporting and encouraging young talent, and providing opportunities for women to connect with role models can help to de-mystify the finance field for young women,” says Shani.