From education to employment

Project OLIVIA: Henley Business School tackles underrepresentation of women in finance careers

This week, around 70 female students from five local state schools in Berkshire attended Project OLIVIA – receiving an exclusive glimpse of the world of business, finance and accounting during a morning of workshops and activities hosted by Henley Business School at Reading’s Whiteknights campus.  

Women are particularly underrepresented in the finance industry, and Project OLIVIA highlighted career opportunities to students, helping them explore where an education in mathematics, economics, and business studies could lead. 

Students took part in a day of activities and seminars including:  

  • An interactive monopoly game introducing the world of finance. 
  • A behind-the-scenes talk from Dr Nadia Kappou about her previous career as a flow trader. 
  • A seminar from Dr Melissa Carr on the opportunities available to women in business, including advice on mentoring, networking and building support networks.  
  • A ‘mannequin challenge’ with charity Smart Works, putting together an appropriate interview outfit. 
  • A career-focussed activity from University of Reading Career specialists. 

The event follows a successful pilot last year, and is the brainchild of Dr Miriam Marra, Associate Professor of Finance and co-Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Henley Business School, encourage more young women from local schools into higher education in business and finance.  

Dr Miriam Marra said about the event:  

“Finance is a crucial part of our economy and a field in which women have been making significant contributions for many years. Today a lot of senior people in the field are women: Christine Lagarde, Janet Yellen, Abigail Johnson, Tiina Lee and more. These women have shown that leadership, expertise, and determination can lead to incredible achievements in finance. Despite these successes, gender bias, lack of representation, and unequal pay are issues that many women encounter. However, there’s a lot of progress being made. Organisations and companies are increasingly recognising the value of gender diversity and are implementing policies to support women’s careers. 

We want to stress to our young guests that this field has plenty of opportunities. Whether becoming a financial analyst, an investment banker, a wealth manager, or starting a fintech company, the possibilities are endless provided an education including subjects like mathematics, economics, and business studies, good networking and seeking out useful mentors while growing up in the field.”

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