Tanja Tippett, Investment Manager at Old Mutual Investment Group and Adjunct Associate Professor in UCT’s Faculty of Commerce, says more interaction is required between influential women in finance and female students at secondary and tertiary education level. “There has been an improvement in the number of women studying commerce undergraduate degrees, but even so we still see very few continuing to postgraduate level,” said Tippett. Around one tenth of the university’s Master’s students in finance are women, she says.
Tippett was the organiser of the Women in Finance event at UCT on August 17. The event aimed to expose female undergraduate students to successful role models and pique their interest in postgraduate study - and in so doing, help correct the gender imbalance both in higher education and in future career choices, says Tippett.
Speaking at the event, held by the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management, female leaders from a number of leading financial institutions including Liberty Life, Rand Merchant Bank, Old Mutual, Nedbank, MMI, Thomson Reuters and Absa discussed the prospects for women rising in the ranks of finance.
A recurring theme in the recollections of many female industry veterans was the need for courage in a largely male-dominated field, despite increasing evidence that diversity is not only beneficial but necessary. Judy Faure, chief risk officer for Old Mutual Emerging Markets, said it was important to be flexible about family roles.
The support of her spouse and family was essential, she said. “For many years there was the notion that there are only so many positions for women in a company, which perhaps exacerbated competition between women rather than support,” said co-head of Investment Banking, Emrie Brown.
“That is beginning to change.”
- African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management.