Numbers may be on the rise, but women are still underrepresented in senior leadership positions in finance and lag behind their male colleagues in earning power.
Only 4 per cent of CEOs in financial and insurance services are women, according to figures released in August 2015 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). And the highest gender pay gap across all industries is in the financial and insurance sector, where women are paid 30 per cent less than men, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency reported in March.
Rewarding talented female students through scholarships is one step that the industry and individual workplaces are taking to redress the balance.
UTS Business School students Nitya Wanzare, Hannah Zhang and Jaslyn Ng all study different areas of the finance industry, and each has been awarded a scholarship to support their studies and careers.
Bachelors of Science in Analytics (formerly Bachelor of Mathematics and Finance)
Nitya Wanzare has been awarded the Brian Gray Scholarship, a $15,000 prize awarded to only four students in Australia each year.
“When I made the decision to complete honours in finance, I wanted to research a topic that would have a direct impact on the finance and banking industry,” Wanzare says.
“Receiving this scholarship shows that my research is valuable and relevant for the banking industry. It is truly a great honour.”
The scholarship is offered jointly by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Reserve Bank of Australia to support final year full-time honours and PhD students in finance, economics and related disciplines.
Wanzare’s research explores how human judgement plays a role in determining the interest rate of a mortgage.
“A borrower’s credit score should be a good determinant of whether their loan will be approved. However, this information – the hard facts – is only part of the story,” Wanzare says.
“Some banks might charge a different interest rate to borrowers with the same credit score. This can be attributed to market conditions and the borrower’s lifestyle and personal characteristics.
“Research shows this ‘soft information’ is a key determinant of the interest rate charged on a mortgage, but can this soft information also help us explain mortgage default?” Wanzare asks.
Wanzare currently works at Commonwealth Bank in regulatory strategy, analysing industry reports and providing advice to internal and external clients about fast-changing bank regulations.
After completing her honours research, Wanzare looks forward to building a career in finance in the banking and investment sectors. She will start work in Westpac Group’s Financial Markets and Treasury division as a graduate in 2017.
“Their program offers immense opportunity to learn about Australian and international money markets and gain valuable experience in foreign exchange and group treasury.
“I want to further my career either as trader or analyst after completing my graduate position. While working, I plan to commence my CFA to gain further qualifications.”
Bachelor of Accounting
Hannah Zhang has been awarded the Citi Women in Banking Scholarship, which is offered to outstanding women students in their second-last year of university. It includes $5,000 of academic support as well as an 11-week internship in Citibank’s Investment Banking division.
“I really look forward to working for a world-class firm and participating in some of the interesting deals that come in during this period. I also look forward to the steep learning curve and having a very fulfilling experience,” Zhang says.
The scholarship program seeks women students with strong academic results, leadership skills and a passion for working in finance.
Zhang’s extensive industry experience, extracurricular participation and outstanding academic results helped her to tick all the boxes.
During her degree Zhang has gained valuable industry training through two six-month, full-time internship placements under the UTS Bachelor of Accounting program.
She has worked at American Express in the Corporate Controllership team, and at KordaMentha in the Restructuring team, while keeping on top of part-time study.
“These were vastly different experiences in both work and culture, but both have given me a more holistic understanding of the business environment and work ethic that is required to excel in the industry,” Zhang says.
She also sought experience outside her degree and has worked part-time at Social Impact Hub, as well as completing a summer internship at McGrathNicol.
Zhang partly attributes receiving the scholarship to her participation in university and student society events. During her studies she volunteered with the 40K Group in India and became involved with the UTS Women in Business Society, holding the office of president in her second year.
“UTS has always offered opportunities for students to get involved through the variety of extracurricular activities available such as student societies and volunteering opportunities,” Zhang says.
Bachelor of Business (Finance)
Finance student Jaslyn Ng has been awarded the Royal Bank of Canada Women in Finance Scholarship (Undergraduate).
The scholarship is offered to outstanding female students commencing their second year of study in the UTS Bachelor of Business with a Finance major, and includes $5,000 of academic support each year for two years, as well as a temporary paid work placement at Royal Bank of Canada.
“I am extremely grateful to receive this scholarship, and hope to further its purpose in encouraging and supporting the progress of women within the finance industry,” Ng says.
“The scholarship will certainly provide additional motivation to accomplish myself academically and career-wise. I am looking forward to taking up the internship opportunity with RBC.”
Ng hopes the scholarship will help her develop proficiency in languages other than English, an increasingly valuable skill in the interconnected commercial environment, as well as an opportunity to explore: “I have a general wanderlust to see the world,” she says.
Eventually, Ng wants to work in an area that combines her two areas of study, finance and law.
“My long-term goal would be to become involved in the area of financial regulation, and being able to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of financial systems through that involvement.
“At present, I am keen to get a broad range of experience, attain a general foundation in and feel for the industry, and continue to progress and learn from there.”