Leadership roles remain a male domain: study

by Donald Horne09 Oct 2015
“Although women have become much more prevalent in the workplace over the past 40 years, they have not succeeded at the level they could if provided with more support by the primarily male leadership of the insurance and financial services industries,” says one of the authors of Financial Services: Women at the Top – A WIFS Research Study, Arthea Reed. “The percentage of women in professional and entrepreneurial roles in the industry is no greater than it was in 1996 when I first joined the industry—less than 20 percent. Women need other women to serve as role models and mentors.”
Commissioned by Women in Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS), was originally designed to find out how women were able to secure top positions in a male-dominated field.  What the two authors of the research did find was in fact disappointing.

Reed and Diane Dixon put together the study, commissioned by Women in Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS) with a goal to attract, develop and advance women in their field – a goal that remains out of reach for many.

Reed’s opinion is backed up by hard numbers in an August Morningstar research report, Fund Managers by Gender, that found women in the account for 63 per cent of the accountants and advisors, 37 per cent of doctors and 33 per cent of lawyers. Yet, when it comes to mutual fund management, less than 10 per cent of portfolio managers are women.
“We examined the gender of open-end fund managers in our database and found that only 9% are women,” stated the report in an earlier LHP story. “Women exclusively run only 2% of assets under management in the $12.6 trillion open-end mutual fund universe. The likelihood that a woman is managing a core multi-asset allocation fund is even lower.”
One exception is Mary Forrest, president and CEO of Munich Re North America (Life), who was elected to chair of the board of directors of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

“I'm honoured to play a leadership role in such a vital industry,” Forrest told LHP.  “I look forward to continuing this momentum.”

The position is determined by popular vote among peers in the industry.