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The Terry College of Business can play a pivotal role in empowering women seeking to enter financial fields. (Photo/Jason Born)

After centuries of being considered homemakers, teachers and assistants, women have made significant breakthroughs in various career fields, including the financial sector. However, despite the growing number of females in the workplace, women are still underrepresented and undervalued.

In finance fields, women receive less support than men, and it’s time the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia and other colleges around the nation promote women going into the financial sector.

Females make up roughly the same percentage of entry-level employees as men in the financial sector, but there are much fewer women than men in senior positions, according to a study by LeanIn.com and McKinsey. Also, women are less likely to get promoted despite asking as much as men do, and women of color face the greatest challenges in climbing the corporate ladder. A big factor in the gender disparity is the confidence gap. According to a Hewlett Packard internal report, a woman typically does not apply for a job or promotion unless she thinks she can meet all the qualifications while men will apply when they meet only 60% of the qualifications. It’s disappointing that well-qualified women don’t believe they are competent, but this is where universities can step in to help.

The problem goes beyond the boundaries of the workplace. According to an analysis of Department of Education data by BussinessStudent.com, the median gender pay for women six years after they enter school is 19.9% lower than the median pay for men among UGA graduates. That pay gap persists in nearly all of the top schools, with graduated women commonly often earning over 20% less than graduated men. From the start, women are at a disadvantage and colleges haven’t done enough to mitigate the pay gap between male and female graduates.

The UGA’s Terry College of Business has begun supporting women looking to enter the business sector. The Terry College of Business’s Women Initiative has sister organizations such as Women in Business, Women in Finance and Women in Technology that are dedicated to empowering female leadership and helping women succeed in their respective fields. The organizations include opportunities for young women to practice networking, interviewing and negotiating. It’s vital that UGA and other universities promote organizations committed to increasing confidence and leadership skills in women heading into the corporate world.

While this is a start, UGA must continue encouraging women choosing to go into financial and corporate jobs. Coursework should include a negotiations class where girls learn how to ask for a pay raise. Debates and public speaking in classes are also necessary to encourage women to use their voice confidently.

Women have come a long way in the workplace, yet progress is stalling. Unless schools empower women to ask for what they want, there is always going to be a disparity between men and women in the business world. It’s time women are recognized as the qualified leaders that they are, and UGA should help make that happen.

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