Learning From Women in Finance: Building Girls’ Leadership and Financial Literacy

Teach For All is committed to ensuring that all girls, regardless of their background, have access to the education, support, and opportunity they need to thrive, now and in the future. Given the stark gender inequities in the financial sector, where only 19% of leadership roles are held by women, one of the ways we marked International Women’s Day was by learning from the journeys of women who have thrived in the sector.

On March 11, Teach For All hosted a conversation with June Felix, CEO of IG Group;  Meenakshi KS, Head – Global Business Integrated Services at Credit Suisse; and Samantha Williams, Teach For All’s Head of Global Girls’ Education Initiative.

Moderated by Teach For All’s CEO and Co-founder Wendy Kopp, the discussion highlighted how young girls have to make choices early in their lives if they wish to focus on STEM careers. To illustrate this point, the panelists spoke about how they entered the financial sector. As a chemical engineer early in her career, June Felix explained that the financial services became interesting to her given her STEM background. “It has really lived up to my expectations as an area where my background in math, problem-solving, logic all come together to solve complicated problems,” she said. “I highly recommend it to people who love challenges.”

Meenakshi KS shared that she ended up in the financial services sector more by chance than choice, with a background in science and experience in the IT sector. For her, there is great appeal in how energetic and fast-paced the industry is. “I would encourage every young woman who aspires to have an impact, who loves dynamism, and who doesn’t like to be in monotonous work to choose the financial services sector,” she said.

“These careers are shaping the direction of the future of the world,” highlighted Samantha Williams. “The challenges we’re seeing today require a particular skill set that is not often fostered in girls.”

June Felix and Meenakshi KS both spoke about valuable insights they gained along their career paths in the male-dominated global financial services arena. Strategies such as speaking first to make sure your voice is heard, and taking ownership in driving discussions have helped them navigate the environment.

"Gender is not a limiting factor for success,” Meenakshi KS urged. “For young girls who are listening: Don’t operate from fear, talk to role models, have the courage to challenge, to test and see if you can build a career in STEM."

June Felix reiterated the importance of mentors and support networks for girls and women in the finance sector. “You have every opportunity to explore and reach your full potential—it’s a question of being brave and experimenting,” she said. “Find people that support you. Don't believe in stereotypes. You can create whatever future you choose.”

Watch the video above to learn more about the panelist’s career paths, insights, and advice.