The Collegian
Sunday, December 10, 2023

Female industry professionals discuss navigating a male-dominated industry in the return of ‘Women on Wall Street’

<p>Speakers at the 'Woman on Wall Street' &nbsp;event held at E. Claiborne Robins School of Business' Ukrop Auditorium on Sept. 20.&nbsp;</p>

Speakers at the 'Woman on Wall Street'  event held at E. Claiborne Robins School of Business' Ukrop Auditorium on Sept. 20. 

Four financial management experts spoke about economic perspectives and career prospects for women in finance at the ‘Women on Wall Street’ event on Sept. 20

The event was hosted as part of the Robins Executive Speaker Series, a yearly event that invites professionals across various industries to speak on their financial career expertise.

From business owners to University of Richmond graduates, the invited speakers came from various finance specializations. They spoke about the intricacies of their industry and how it has changed from the past. The panel also touched on issues surrounding the current state of the financial climate in the United States. 

While progress has been made to increase gender diversity, panelists recognized the dominance of men in the financial management industry. Despite having equal representation in entry-level training programs in banks, the panelists discussed the existence of a large gender gap in more senior roles. 

“I've seen things that both are really encouraging and then candidly, other things that make me a little bit more frustrated with the pace of change,” Karen Welch, panelist and director of investments at Spider Management Company said.

While she appreciated the growing representation of women in the foundation and endowment sectors of the investment industry, Welch acknowledged that other sectors have struggled to maintain gender diversity, specifically in investment banking and private equity. 

“Take advantage of the opportunities that [UR] has and explore different avenues within finance and investment,” Welch said.  

During the talk, Welch encouraged participants to be open to developing their interests, especially with the vastness of the financial industry.

“We like to incorporate the challenges or the opportunities that women face in that arena,” Andi Minor, Director of Special Events in the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, said. 

The ‘Women on Wall Street’ event is a spinoff from ‘Word on Wall Street’ (also hosted by RESS). In these events, they include young alumni to provide a contrast between their career pathways and women who’ve been in the industry for longer periods of time, Minor said.

Panelists engaged the audience of students, faculty, and visitors throughout the presentation with interactive questionnaires. 

“I'm participating in that gender gap if I'm not educating myself on these things,” junior Jessica Hay said. 

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Despite not having a strong interest in finance, Hay said that the event inspired her to fully use the resources provided by the business school and look into the field from a different perspective. While she had hoped to hear more career-specific advice from the panelist, she shared her excitement about witnessing female experts in the industry.

“I want to try to utilize the resources that we have here around finance because sometimes it can be really daunting … I'm gonna do more research and study and try to expand my mind” Hay said.

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