Do banks have a problem with women in technology? The sheer number of diversity programs for women in tech would seem to suggest they do. No bank runs diversity events for the hell of it and there are plenty of them for technologists.
However, having got precious female technology talent through the door, there’s anecdotal evidence that banks are having trouble persuading them to stay. Some, at least, are not very happy.
“Sexism is a serious problem in technology here,” says a female coder at one major U.S. bank, speaking off the record. “A lot of women in my team are leaving because of the way we’re being treated. There’s one manager who’s been investigated by HR. - Over 15 people have testified on his behavior and nothing has been done.”
While this may be an isolated case, a VP-level male coder at the same bank says he’s also seen behaviors that could frustrate his female colleagues. “I haven’t seen crude or overt sexism in tech, but particularly at the junior level I’ve seen a lack of trust placed in female coders. They’re less likely to be given important projects or to be made responsible for delivery.”
Another female coder at a U.S. investment bank says she witnessed something similar in the past. “We were a 50/50 team in terms of gender, but we had a male manager who seemed to give the juicier projects to the men.”
To the extent that there is discrimination in banking technology, it’s fair to say that banks are keen to stamp it out and to present positive female role models. Goldman Sachs’ EMEA technology business is headed by Jo Hannaford and JPMorgan has senior female technologists like Fiona Ellis, who was recently promoted to MD, Laura Pascalau, an executive director on the Athena team, and Manuela Veloso in AI.
“There might be the odd idiot here and there but I have never seen 'a big problem' [in banks’ tech functions],” says one female coder. “I’ve had worse problems in other industries, where people have mistaken me for the receptionist.”
One male coder observes that women in tech are at least liberated from the curse of women in sales – who appear compelled to look pretty for the sake of male clients. “Given the nature of the role, they seem to hire saleswomen for looks as well as intelligence. For coders its not something that matters.”
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