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Joey Horn started her career as an investment banker, first at Smith Barney and then at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York. Later on, in Oslo, she was an Equity Research Analyst for a Swedish securities firm. Although Joey Horn was successful in the banking sector, there is no doubt that it is still an industry that has a reputation for being predominantly male.

Banks, insurers and asset managers around the world have taken steps towards achieving better gender diversity within their companies. However, in the U.S. the number of women who ran mutual funds fell from 11% in 2008 to 10% in 2007. In the 25 largest banks in the world, women only account for less than a quarter of the senior staff, and in 50 American financial services companies women only accounted for 20% of executive committee roles and 22% of board positions.

Although banks have created initiatives to address the lack of women in the industry, business schools are also beginning to recognise the role that they play in gender diversity in finance.

Influential business schools are one of the most important sources of talent within the financial services sector, and the gender imbalance within these schools is contributing to the larger problem within the industry. Schools have begun to offer more and more scholarships that are aimed at female MBA students; these scholarships are often backed by financial services companies and banks, which offer tens of thousands of dollars towards the cost of tuition, or in some cases, will completely cover the cost of the course.

Since 2014, the Lloyds Scholars MBA Scholarships for Women programme has offered a $47,000 contribution to London Business School course fees, and since 2017 the 30% Club has offered a full scholarship to the Alliance Manchester Business School.

The 30% Club is a UK organization that works towards more board diversity. Its CEO, Helena Morrissey, noted that the Club’s work has encouraged a number of high profile business schools – such as London Business School and Oxford University’s Business School – to set their targets for female representation on MBA programmes to 30%.

The University of Maryland’s Robert H Smith School of Business went one step further, hoping to reach gender parity on its MBAs by 2020. However, the school has found that progress has been slow. In order to reach its ambitious target, the Smith School of Business has given talks at universities and secondary schools to increase awareness amongst female students, as well as holding recruitment events for female professionals that are hosted by the faculty staff, the alumni and the students. New classes have also been introduced, such as ‘Ladies First’ – a class for female entrepreneurs – and ‘Get Confident’, which hopes to introduce female MBA students to activities such as clay pigeon shooting and golf.