Meet The Women Successfully Climbing The Leadership Ladder In The Banking Sector

Women make up a larger portion of the population in the United States, yet if you look at some of the biggest industries in the country like the banking industry, you don’t see many women. Thankfully, women are taking it upon themselves to break all sorts of barriers even with obstacles, which should be highlighted.

Dealing With the Obstacles

The banking sector, like many other industries in the United States, is still very much dominated by men, which makes it harder for women to ascend the ladders of success in traditional ways, but thankfully it is slowly changing as we can see from the example of key women who are pioneering new pathways. The following are some obstacles women face and must overcome within this industry:

Gender Bias

One obstacle women face in this industry is gender bias. From unequal pay to discrimination regarding life choices (having a family, taking vacations etc) there is bias that still needs to be addressed throughout the industry. At times, managers undervalue women, thinking they are not as good as their male counterparts even if their experience or education is similar. This is not always intentional, but forcing women to work harder to prove themselves capable is an obstacle that men don’t really have to worry about.


Another obstacle that several women seem to have is an inner-struggle. Typically we look at ambitious and assertive men as positive, but these same traits often have a negative connotation when talking about women. Self-confidence plays a major role in how women can succeed in male-dominated sectors and climb the leadership ladder. Additionally, it doesn’t help that media and entertainment portrayals of men and women in finance (think ‘Wolf of Wall Street’) are vastly difference and send two opposing messages to men and women watching.

Whatever the reason may be, there are a lot of women who struggle to be assertive, be secure in their expertise, and to know when to fight back. If you are dealing with this, there are ways to work on these insecurities so you don’t have to constantly deal with the same struggles. You do not want to have to ask family or friends to transfer money to a bank account when you’re short on funds.

Social Pressure

Women face another obstacle that men do not, such as social pressures to start a family. This doesn’t come from the workplace, but it is an obstacle that women face outside of the workplace.

If there is one question that women get asked, it is if and when they are planning to start a family. Career women get asked if it is possible to continue their career as they become parents. These societal pressures can become burdensome and show how biased the workplace can be for women in certain aspects of life.

Women Who’ve Become Major Players in the Industry

Women are beginning to overcome these obstacles systemically by learning to be more assertive, learning to work together with other women to elevate each other, and by redefining their roles in society. These struggles have by no means been completely conquered, but barriers have been broken, and the following are some of the most accomplished women in the banking industry. You may be inspired by their success:

Cathy Bessant

Cathy Bessant is now the Co-COO & Chief Technology Officer at Bank of America Corp. and has been serving in that position for a long time. Cathy was determined, did not allow others to define her role in the company, and held positions of power throughout her career all the way up to this one. She delivered results, and that is gave her the power to break down doors that might have been closed before.

Mary Callahan Erdoes

Mary Callahan Erdoes is the CEO and the Asset and Wealth Management at JPMorgan Chase. There is no doubt that this is one of the biggest and most powerful banking companies out there, and she is an important leader in it. This position was not handed to Mary. She had to fight for it, and with a strong support system, Mary was able to achieve. Mary continues to be in this position because she is leading the company forward by adopting new technology and creating new ways of doing business.

Kelly Coffey

Kelly Coffey is the CEO of City National Bank, which is a role she never thought she’d get. Kelly’s father was the CEO of a small town bank, and she does remember learning a bit from him, but she actually pursued international business, yet here she is, the CEO of a very large bank. She is paying it forward though by forming a coalition of successful women in the financial industry who are hoping to attract more women and take them under their wing.

While the finance and banking sector are certainly still very male-dominated, the industry is changing and with more women in positions of leadership and mentorship, we are bound to see more gender equality as the years go on.

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