While the glass ceiling keeping women out of the C-Suite was shattered at blue-chip technology and industrial companies many years ago, it continues to hover over the sharp-elbowed world of Wall Street.
The causes of this unseen barrier to the CEO position remain complex, but insiders point to Wall Street’s reluctance to change its aggressive, hard-charging and clubby culture that can stifle rising females.
And even though a number of women have briefly flirted with the highest rungs of the financial world, the prospects do not appear strong that a major Wall Street firm will hire its first female chief executive any time soon.
“I think the cultures have to undergo a tremendous amount of more change before we’re going to see a woman CEO of a major financial-services firm,” said Gayle Mattson, who runs the board and CEO practice at executive-search firm DHR International. “I just don’t see it happening in the next five years.”
‘Why Can’t I?’
According to a 2011 Catalyst census, even though women make up 40.5% of all employees in the securities, investment banking and commodities sector, they account for just 17.7% of the executive officers and managers.
“There’s no excuse for that big of a difference. I think the women that are coming in today they look at the Street and say, ‘Why can’t I?’ They want to be a part of it. They’re working hard to get to a higher level,” said Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, who was the first female to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.