by Rich Edwards Sep 30, 2022

What we're reading - 09/30/22 Edition

A look at the recent news and research on the role of women in banking and the workplace

Oh, you want to talk about gender in banking? Name every woman.

Like our previous coverage of Privacy and BNPL, we’re taking a closer look at the latest news and research on gender and the workplace. We have the incredible story of the newly launched Agility Bank and its goal of serving women and minorities, the pressures on women to downplay their role as parents at work, and research on the different experiences men and women have when seen as being overqualified for a role.

1. The unlikely story of women owned MDI Agility Bank

This week Minority Depository Institution (MDI) Agility Bank announced they raised capital of $41M, far over the $30M requirement set by the OCC. The Houston based bank, the first in the U.S. primarily owned and operated by women, is mission focused on providing access to capital for women-owned small businesses. They were able to beat capital requirements by engaging over 350 investors, most of whom are women and equally committed to their mission.

“This incredibly successful capital raise speaks to our investors’ commitment to address the gender gap by building more equity and access to capital for women and minority businesses,” Lauren Sparks, Agility’s founder and CEO, said in a press release. “These investors truly believe in our mission of providing products and services, along with savvy bankers, to enable small and mid-size businesses to thrive, particularly those owned by women. We are putting women at the table and ensuring they have a voice in their financial futures.”

The whole story of Agility is full of overcoming adversity, from receiving initial approval right at the beginning of the pandemic to working around the devastating Texas storms last winter.

2. Kids? What kids?

Emily Oster, a professor of economics from Brown University, writes on the norm of hiding being a parent in the workplace. This form of pressure on parents comes from a need for conformity and often guilt, even from those lucky enough to have paid parental leave provided.

Women told me that they hid their pregnancies until well into the third trimester, wearing loose-fitting clothes to avoid telling their bosses or venture-capital funders that they were expecting. Once they had kids, some told me they simply never discussed them. If they had to deal with a child-related issue, they lied about why they were leaving work.

As a fellow devotee to the power of data, I’ll recommend any of Prof. Oster’s books, but in particular, I’d point to her 2007 Ted talk on the spread of AIDS in Africa.

3. When being too good at your job hurts you

Elizabeth L. Campbell and Oliver Hahl write in HBR on their quantitative research and the disproportionate effects on women’s careers when it comes to overqualification in hiring and retention.

People aren’t worried about <women> leaving a firm for better opportunities. It’s not that they think exceptional women aren’t committed to advancing in their careers. In fact, we found that exceptional qualifications are taken as a strong signal of women’s career commitment. Rather, it’s that people make a different set of assumptions about what matters to exceptional women. While it’s assumed that exceptional men will job hop to get a promotion, it’s assumed that exceptional women will stay loyal to their firm because they value their relationships with their coworkers. The assumption that women value these relationships is so strong that people continue to believe exceptional women will choose to stay even in the face of better, outside career opportunities. Our results show exceptional women, on average, are seen as 20% less likely to leave the firm and 26% more likely to be hired as a result, compared to men with equivalent exceptional qualifications.

And this occurs at a time when higher education continues a trend since 1970 of flipping relative college enrollment rates for men and women, with women accounting for 60% of college enrollments in the U.S.

Image and research source: Scott Galloway - Back to School

And that’s it for the week. It’s good to be thankful for the small things, like not having to walk through a bathroom to get out of your bedroom. So was anything in here too spicy? Not spicy enough? Let us know at, and share below.

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