With a daily turnover of $5 trillion, the Forex market is the biggest and most dynamic financial market on the planet. While women are still underrepresented in corporate senior management, we like to think that society in the 21st century has moved massively in the right direction with concern to gender equality and availability of opportunity. It is true to say although there is still much progress to be made, where corporate life was once completely dominated by men, it is now no longer rare to see talented and gifted women climb to the very top of companies. Financial markets have traditionally been male dominated and when you think of traders, it is easy to conjure up images of Wolf of Wall Street-like excess, with men in expensive suits screaming at each other on the trading floor, working ridiculously long hours but partying just as hard. So, how are women faring in the world of Forex trading?
The Situation in 2020
Despite the progress made in gender equality across most corporations and organisations, it is clear that the finance industry in general is still heavily dominated by men and there is still a striking lack of female representation, especially at board level and above. An IMF study in 2018 (1) unearthed some damning statistics, for example finding that women made up less than 2% of financial institutions CEOs and that they accounted for less than 20% of executive board members. Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of England, commented in 2019 that “Finance offers so much, but it still doesn’t offer enough for women… this is especially striking as more women than men start out in financial services, only for their representation to diminish steadily through the ranks”. (2) Perhaps unsurprisingly, the current situation in Forex trading is broadly reflective of the finance industry norms – a 2018 report by BrokerNotes (3) found the 19% of the world’s online traders were female, and in the UK it was 12.5%.
The Rise of Female Forex Traders
While it is clear there is still a wide gender gap in the world of Forex, there is a wind of change blowing across the sector. 19% female representation in the trading sector might not seem like an inspiring figure; but consider that it wasn’t that long ago that women were almost entirely absent from the industry. The online broker City Index noted in a 2015 report (4) that 46% more women opened trading accounts with them in the first quarter of 2015 than in the same quarter in 2014 and the 2018 BrokerNotes (3) study found that female online trader ratios had grown from 1 in 10 in 2017 to 1 in 7 in 2018. Forex trading certainly offers a relatively easy route into that market as you can get involved online without having to work in a trading floor environment. With the advent of smartphone trading apps, most of which offer “dummy” test accounts and education resources, coupled with platforms that offer trading opportunities at any time of day, women are able to trade at a time and pace that fits in with their lives and schedules. There are also resources such as Fxforex.com which provide trustworthy guides to Forex, CFDs and Cryptocurrency trading online as well as up to date news so you can abreast of the latest developments in the industry
It seems certain that the gender gap in the Forex trading industry is set to continue to close. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many more people working from home than ever before and many surveys indicate that after the crisis has passed, most people will elect to work from home at least for part of the week. As there will be less commuting much time will be freed up for individuals to engage in trading online and the industry could see an influx of “hobbyist” traders who eventually decide to make their hobby their career. Without the male-dominated trading floor to concern them, it seems certain that ever-increasing numbers of women will delve into the Forex world. Many studies indicate that females possess a distinct edge over their male counterparts when it comes to trading. A 2018 report from Warwick Business School (5) found that women were better strategists than men and were more likely to take a considered, long term approach to trading and were less likely to take speculative risks. They even managed to boil this down into an overall number – finding that women outperformed men at investing by 1.8%. 2016 research by the University of Leicester (6) found that female traders had higher average earnings, lost smaller amounts of money and were less governed by ego and emotion than their male colleagues. It seems certain that online brokers will increasingly target the female market, to both expand their business and tap into this hitherto largely untapped well of acumen and ability.