Thursday, November 8, 2012

Women in Public Finance

By Taylor Paton
According to the nonprofit, Women in Public Finance, “The mission of Women in Public Finance is to advance women's leadership opportunities and potential by fostering relationships and networking, and providing educational and learning activities and forums.” That is, essentially, the aim of SPEA’s Public Finance Association’s Women in Public Finance Committee: to connect women who are interested in public finance. For some, that is all the explanation needed. Women thrive in with the support and presence of other women; however, I may be biased having attended an all women’s college for my undergraduate education. For others, the question may still remain, why have a public finance committee for women?
 The financial sector is seeing a slow in the number of interested women. In the 1970s and 1980s women were breaking into the financial industry in droves; however, today less young women are entering or even interested in the finance fields. In his article “Lost Generation: Young Women Flee Finance,” Kyle Stock states,
 “Between 2001 and 2010, the number of women over the age of 55 in finance fields…rose by 296,000 or 45.2%. This reflects the waves of women who joined the industry 30 years ago and stayed.”

Thus, in the same period the number of women between the ages of 20 and 24 decreased. So why did these women leave? Why aren’t more women entering into the industry like their mothers’ generation? According to Stock, “women hitting the workforce in the 21st-century aren’t driven by the same sense of purpose that their generation had—the mission of breaking into the boys club.” Stock concludes that women are avoiding financial industries to maintain a work-life balance. Personally, I believe that is nonsense, yet I will not disagree that there is a stigma that financial industries tip the balance in favor of work over life (See my plug below for PFA event coming in January). I agree more with Stock’s notion of the sense of purpose. Women are driven by a purpose, men too. As women, we need a cause, a reason to do what we do. Where is Mitt Romney’s “Binder of Women” when you need it?
 Well, Mittens, your binder decided to go to D.C. without you. Today’s headlines are filled with titles such as Newsday’s “Elizabeth Warren, Deb Fischer help set record number of women In U.S. Senate” and CNN’s “Women gain in the Senate” and “Women are no longer outsiders” and my favorite, The Daily Beast’s “Estrogen Feast: Key Women in the Race for Congress.” If you haven’t already concluded, today was an important day in politics for women. Hannah Rosin’s Opinion article for CNN earlier this evening explained that it wasn’t long ago that women were newcomers in Washington D.C. Rosin said,
“Workplace studies from the 1970’s showed that when women reached a third of an office population, their presence no longer seemed unusual. The Senate will be one-fifth female. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.”
Today is a great day to be a woman. Today is a great day to be in the public sector. Today is a great day to get interested in public finance. Public finance is the best of both worlds. If you want to know more about careers in public finance, have questions about work-life balance in public finance, or just want to hang out with some wonderful, inspiring women join us in January as SPEA’s Women in Public Finance Committee teams up with the state of Indiana Chapter of Women in Public Finance to discuss all of this and more. Ask your questions or just come to hang out. Watch your inbox for more info!
 Great articles mentioned in this blog:
 Abigail Pesta. “Estrogen Fest: Key Women in the Race for Congress.” The Daily Beast.
 Hannah Rosin. “Women less likely to be political outsiders now.” Special to CNN.
 Bloomberg News. “Elizabeth Warren, Deb Fischer help set record number of women in U.S. Senate.”

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