The future of finance is female
This fall, as we reflect on a year full of toxic sexual dynamics in so many of our social (and even political) institutions, I’ve been thinking about how to move forward. For my part, that means finding ways we can support young women as they begin their professional lives.
Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen sounded the alarm when she returned last year to her undergrad alma mater (and mine), Brown University, to give a speech. Talking about the advances women have made in the world economy over the past century—as well as the disadvantages we still face—Yellen noted that although women now graduate from top professional schools (such as law and business) in numbers equal to men’s, they are still not represented equitably in high-level positions.
So when another Brown alum, Darla Jade, the executive director of Smart Woman Securities (SWS), invited me to talk to a group of college women committed to developing expertise in the financial sector, I was all in. With chapters at 25 colleges across the country, SWS provides its members with educational seminars on finance and investing, as well as with mentorship and networking opportunities.
I could relate. I spent the early years of my career mentored by the great personal finance columnist Sylvia Porter, so I was excited to talk these young women about their goals for the future. I was not disappointed. Below are just a few of the memorable young people I met:
Nisha Honnoya, NYU
I was so impressed by Nisha, who blogs about her interest in the quantitative side of trading—in her spare time as a sophomore studying finance. Talk about extracurricular activities! Check out her latest post about using correlations to inform your choices in picking ETFs.
Erin North, NYU
A senior getting ready to apply for management consulting positions, Erin shared a job interview experience with me that made me confident she’ll ace any hiring process. When she arrived for an internship interview last summer, Erin and her hiring manager were rudely interrupted…by terrible street construction outside. Rather than try to soldier through, Erin commented on the disruption, scoring points with her interviewer, who was just as annoyed!
Fahmeeda Alam, NYU
Fahmeeda is from my home borough of Queens—so we definitely had to take a picture together! (It’s an official rule for Queens girls.) She talked to me about the challenges of pursuing a career in business and finance coming from a background where her parents and peers weren’t in professional fields. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for Fahmeeda, and I’m glad that SWS exists to encourage young women like her to pursue their highest goals.
Sarah Olijar, University of Virginia
Sarah had a great question about an issue familiar to many people, even a decade after the Great Recession: How do you talk to friends and family members who are skittish about taking on any type of consumer debt? There are so many misconceptions around this issue, and I was excited to hear that Sarah wanted to educate the people in her life. We talked about the fact that some debt is good to help you build up a credit record—as long as it is paid off responsibly (i.e., quickly).