The researcher says the results of the Australian survey provide “evidence from that culture that things come to men without asking.”
Far fewer women are promoted than men in the financial industry unless they first apply for seniority, a sign of institutional gender bias, according to a new study in Australia.
The survey of 2,000 professionals in the financial industry showed that 76% of men were offered a promotion at least once without requesting it, compared to 57% of women. The study was compiled by lead researchers Ardea Investment Management and the Australian National University in conjunction with industry experts.
The findings provide “evidence of that culture that things come to men without asking,” said Bronwen Whiting, who worked on the survey and is a senior professor of applied statistics at the university. “It can’t be that women act differently to fix it.”
Australia is among the countries that can claim some success in tackling gender inequality. For example, a report from consultancy Kearney this year showed that Australia leads the UK, the US and India in the proportion of women MPs and board members in its top 100 companies. However, the latest survey results show consistent gaps, including the fact that male fund managers earn on average more than twice as much as female counterparts.
Male quantitative research analysts are paid 43% more than women, and men in compliance roles received an additional 76%, according to 2019 data. Australian official figures place the overall pay gap between men and women in 14%. In the UK, the gap in financial services far exceeds 20%, according to an analysis of government data.
The Ardea-Australian National University study found that women asked for raises and promotions at the same rate as men, and when they did, there was no difference between the genders in terms of receiving them. However, the gap appeared when companies took the initiative with promotions.
“One of the arguments put forward as to why women are paid less is that we are too nice,” Laura Ryan, Sydney-based Ardea’s head of research, said in an interview. “It seems that we are being assertive, but if we are not, we will definitely lose it. Gender is a very important factor in determining salary. “
Glass ceilings and gender pay disparities remain persistent global problems in the financial industry. In general, women also face a disproportionate risk of losing their jobs in the wake of the pandemic, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Women were already falling behind in saving for their retirement compared to men due to existing inequality, and the aftermath of Covid-19 could exacerbate the problem, Ryan said.
Whiting of the Australian National University said she hoped executives would recognize that progress has been slow and “is not something we can talk about once a year on International Women’s Day and then forget about it.”
Ryan said many colleagues in the finance industry believe that there is no gender gap, adding that “while there is all this training on unconscious biases and everyone seems to think the problem is fixed, the results show that it is definitely not fixed and we still have quite a way to go. “