female.jpgVidhi Chhoachharia (left), an associate professor of finance at the School, and Renee Adams, a finance professor at the University of New South Wales, drove the creation of the School’s Showcasing Women in Finance academic conference.

Men dominate the field of finance in academia – although six out of the School’s 10 PhD students in finance are women, bucking the norm. One of those students, Julia Hatamyer, had heard it could be harder for women to publish papers in the field. She asked Henrik Cronqvist, professor of finance and director of the School’s PhD program, about the issue. He remembers her saying, “So, how do women approach that; do they try to publish under a false name?”

Cronqvist took the question, and its implications, to Renee B. Adams, a finance professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia who co-founded AFFECT, the American Finance Association’s “Academic Female Finance Committee.” Adams and several PhD students at the School worked with other School faculty to create the School’s “Showcasing Women in Finance” conference, which AFFECT co-sponsored. The first conference was held March 4, and it explored ways to boost the presence of women in academia studying finance. More than 40 academics attended, and six women presented research papers on related topics.

Adams laid out the gender issue in terms both personal and statistical. When she took her job 10 years ago, she said she was the first female finance professor in Australia. Worldwide, women hold roughly 20% of finance jobs, more on the lower than senior levels, she estimated. And, women faculty in finance earn less than men at all levels, Adams said, citing work with the Finance Research Network in Australia and similar studies at U.S. universities.

Although women tend to underperform in math compared to men, math alone can’t explain this disparity, because other math-related fields are adding females faster, Adams explained. Some people claim women are too risk-averse for finance. Yet Adams offered three data sets – from the Certified Financial Analyst Institute, academics in Australia and doctoral students in Europe – that all show women in finance to be more achievement-oriented, less traditional and less conformist than their male counterparts in finance, debunking that claim. “The evidence suggests women may face different challenges than men in finance,” said Adams. “I think what we should do is change the narrative that it’s the women’s fault.”

Vidhi Chhoachharia, one of two women on the School’s finance faculty, was one of the driving forces behind the conference. “It’s important to have more women in the field, as they really do act as role models,” she said. “Having women finance professors might encourage women to think of finance as a career, either as an academic or otherwise.”

Spring 2017
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