In response to the Financial Times’ feature on Sexism and the City, published on 19 January, Zella King, Co-founder of Personal Boardroom, wrote a letter to the paper which was published on 20 January 2015.
Text of letter:
Efforts to increase the number of senior women in financial services have hit a brick wall (Sexism and the City, 17 Jan 2015). But the problem is not women’s gender, it’s their networks.
There is a well-documented human tendency to associate with people who are ‘like you’. As women are vastly outnumbered at senior levels in banks, the people at the epicentre of power are predominately male. On average, women and other minorities have fewer and weaker connections to these dominant coalitions. That makes it harder for them to wield influence and effect change.
Quotas tilt the numbers so that there are more women at the centre of power. That would help. But until everyone at the epicentre – whether male or female – understands the importance of rubbing shoulders with people who aren’t ‘like them’, the triple whammy of gender stereotyping, harassment and isolation for senior women is here to stay.