The Women of Wall Street: How the Financial Tide is Turning

Wall Street wants more women – that was the headline to an article written by Reuters’ reporter Anna Irrera in June 2018. Despite the age-old perception of trading being an old boys club, Irrera showed that exceptions can and do exist. At the heart of the article was the story of Priya Karani. A biomedical engineering graduate from Duke University, Karani had never considered a job on Wall Street because she “didn’t know it was an option.” However, a decade after receiving her degree, Karani became direct at Barclays PLC in New York. Like Stacey Cunningham, the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the Barclays boss is now pushing to get more women into the financial sector.

Gender Ratios Need to Improve

According to executive search firm Sheffield Haworth, women generally account for between 12% and 15% of trading roles. Commenting on the statistics, the company’s head of global markets, Jon Regan, explained that “trading is a hard one to crack” but that firms are now working to “improve their gender ratios.” As noted by Karani, one of the main barriers to entry is information. Without knowing there are opportunities out there, women are less likely to consider a career in the investment industry. One recent innovation that could help change perceptions is online trading.

Growing popular within the last decade, the industry is now home to traders of all ages and genders. Helping fuel the online trading revolution is access. Unlike a corporate trading environment, online platforms offer instant access, free training and low fees. For example, by trading forex online, novice investors will get access to 24/5 support, leverage up to 50x and access to around 180 FX pairs. What’s more, they don’t have to interact with or be dictated to by anyone. In essence, online trading platforms are the perfect learning environment for anyone that wants to break into the industry. By offering easy access to live and demo accounts, these platforms are raising awareness and, in turn, proving a stepping stone to women that want to work on Wall Street.

Demographics Are Changing

An example of the changing demographics of trading can be seen in the trajectory of Lauren Simmons. A 23-year-old equity trader for Rosenblatt Securities, Simmons is both the youngest and only full-time female employee on the NYSE. Although she may not have cut her teeth online, Simmons is a product of the modern trading generation. As more people trade online, the average age of the average trader has decreased. Indeed, as Statista’s data shows, 98% of the US population aged 18 to 24 were internet users. With more young people online, the average age of traders is bound to decrease. Couple this with the anonymity of virtual trading platforms and it’s a great way to bring young women like Simmons into the fold.

Therefore, while gender ratios need to improve in the corporate environment, things are changing. Through a combination of online trading and the efforts of Karani and Cunningham, more women may soon be leading the way on Wall Street.

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