by Chrispa Palaiologou, Recruitment Manager, MiF & MBA
Historically, women have been under-represented in the financial industry, especially in more senior positions. When London Business School launched its first full-time Masters degree in 1966 the class comprised of 40 men and only 1 woman. Today we have proudly raised the number of female students to 26% for our Masters in Finance (MiF) but mentalities are hard to change and we are still far from our ideal target of 50% women.
At London Business School we are committed to supporting this upward trend. Never before have there been so many highly qualified women who earn well, are on track to take up senior positions in finance, and have the motivation and commitment to invest in their education and further their finance career.
We asked MiF student Andrea Kiese Seiferheld to share her experience.
Why did you opt to study the full-time Masters in Finance at London Business School?
From my experiences in developing countries I learned sustainable finance could act as a mechanism to serve society. In my opinion, the purpose of the industry goes beyond managing money, time, and risks. I am convinced that finance is a means to a greater end – a completely inclusive environment where knowledge, innovation and impact are at the core of financial rationality.
Pursuant to the personal development of this rationality the decision of what to study was intrinsically linked to financial education. The question then became where. After living abroad for five years I understood that there is no better way to absorb practical knowledge than from people and experiences. It was from this point on that the MiF programme became my first choice. There was no other educational setting in the world that offered both the leading exposure to real-world business practices found in London and the global focus and international reach of London Business School.
Could you share your experience of being a woman in a male dominated finance professional environment, how do you think the MiF will help you in that regard?
I found that finance is an industry where women have to constantly establish credibility and respect among their peers. Since it is a male-dominated field, nowadays it is easier for a woman to stand out from the crowd. However, the moment she receives attention is unfortunately to prove others that she has what it takes to turn aspirations and expectations into reality. The possibility of being considered a “woman in finance” is therefore linked to maintaining a consistent, high-quality performance while understanding the male business behaviour and taking into account that her actions are probably being placed in a gender-biased context.
I believe the MiF challenges this issue and works diligently towards transcending gender stereotypes. The programme provides a wide range of support systems like mentoring and coaching sessions, skill development workshops, female-focused events and campus groups’ initiatives to push the boundaries of self-assessment and give women a voice in business. Personally, these opportunities have enhanced my confidence and as a member of the TEDxLondonBusinessSchool executive team I can say that it is easier now to speak up, inspire action, and empower women to not be afraid of becoming active participants in the field.
Could you share your experience being a woman in a predominantly male class?
Occasions where women could contribute, stand out, and lead class discussions, group assignments, and presentations are numerous in the programme. Unfortunately, I believe there is still an opportunity for MiF female students to participate more. For some reason it seems that the gender-biased conception is still prevalent in our own gender, making it real that the fact of being part of a minority hinders progress and fosters stagnation. However, faculty members and fellow students create a very stimulating and gender-equal learning environment, regularly asking specifically for women’s points of view when solving cases and discussing assignments. In my opinion, this signals a positive shift in awareness across the field as classes become inclusive environments where diversity is valued and students learn from each other, regardless of gender identity.
What has been the highlight of your MiF experience so far?
It has been the possibility of getting to know inspiring, talented and hard-driven individuals from all over the world. Personally, this has translated into a character-building process and knowledge creation gained through diverse networks. Social gatherings, professional events and service activities like Sundowners, Finance@work and LBSxLondon have been at the core of creating meaningful and invaluable moments in this journey. Overall, the programme has created so far an ambitious yet collaborative community of professionals who understand the true purpose of finance in a world characterised by deepening social and economic vulnerability.
To find out more, get in touch with the Masters in Finance Recruitment Team at firstname.lastname@example.org