June 22, 2009 / 5:10 PM / 8 years ago

Women making few strides in Canada capital markets

3 Min Read

TORONTO (Reuters) - There has been no rise in the number of women working in key parts of Canadian capital markets since the start of the decade, a study released on Monday showed, despite robust growth in the industry and efforts to ensure more female representation.

Men continue to outnumber women four to one in all positions -- excluding administrators -- in a financial sector that ranges from brokerages to underwriting.

"It was a disappointment," said Martha Fell, chief executive of Women in Capital Markets, a non-profit organization that promotes the entry, advancement and development of women in the capital markets. The group commissioned the study to benchmark 2008.

There has been robust growth in the industry overall recently -- the number of people in capital markets was up 12 percent in 2008 from 2005 -- but the percentage of women represented has barely changed.

That has occurred despite efforts on the part of many participants to ensure women are attracted to the industry as well as focusing on retention and development of talent.

"There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests that what we're doing is making a difference," said Fell. "What's really disappointing is the fact that it's not showing up in the numbers."

The study, conducted by research firm Catalyst and the fourth in a series that began in 2000, showed the overall percentage of women in the investment dealer and retail private client business lines was up slightly at 39 percent in 2008 from 37 percent 2000. Between 2005-2008, the figure was unchanged at 39 percent.

Line experience, or positions that include profit and loss, revenue generation or direct client responsibility, is vital for women to hold in order to advance into the highest positions in a company, the study said.

Yet women held only 17 percent of all line positions in capital markets, down from 18 percent in 2005 and unchanged from 2000, suggesting there is a disconnect down the command chain and in aspects of recruitment, said Fell.

There is also "significant concern" that the fallout from the financial crisis will set women back even further, the study concluded.

Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson

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