At the third edition of the Workshop for Women in Law & Finance on 22 May, young female scholars had the opportunity to present their research and exchange ideas on career paths and experiences in academia. The event, hosted by the Center for Advanced Studies on the Foundations of Law and Finance LawFin and the Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE, aims to empower women in the fields of law and finance and brought together women in leadership positions from academia and practice. It provides a platform for learning, networking, and promoting gender equality.
The event highlighted that there are still difficulties for women in research. To reduce these difficulties, also institutional changes are needed. A study by economist Patricia Funk, Università della Svizzera italiana, presented in a keynote address, showed that. “There exist many obstacles for women, for example, in publishing, but it is encouraging that more and more women are being nominated for awards across all disciplines,“ Funk said, explaining the results of her research.
Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, an economist at Goethe University Frankfurt, also called for more support from institutions. She could imagine quotas, for example, to redress existing inequalities. “Numbers are important,“ said Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln
Patricia Funk, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, and lawyer Katja Langenbucher shared tips and personal experiences on (academic) careers and publication strategies. While the recommendations varied depending on their research discipline, they all emphasized the importance of support from senior female researchers or, for example, mentoring.
In addition to the panel discussion, the event featured presentations by legal and financial experts. The young academics offered interesting insights into current developments in the areas of corporate governance, banking, public finance, and corporate policy.
Visible role models
The panel discussion brought together women who were often the first or only women in their positions: Daniela Favoccia (Partner, HengelerMueller), Fatima Hussain (Senior Legal Counsel and Legal Innovation Advisor, Trade Republic), Melanie Kehr (Member of the Board, KfW Bankengruppe), Patrizia Laeri (CEO, elleXX) and Chiara Zilioli (General Counsel, ECB). The discussion was moderated by Mirjam Pütz, CEO of WM Group.
The career paths of the panelists highlighted the challenges women can face. However, there has also been progress and benefits, Daniela Favoccia noted: “As a pioneer, you can shape your role freely, because there are no norms like dress codes for women in these positions,” she reported from her own experience.
Role models also play an essential role: Fatima Hussain made a conscious decision to make herself and her successes visible, for example, through social media, to encourage others. Hussain emphasized that role models cannot do everything perfectly, but they give others with similar problems the courage to think, “I can do it too”.
In addition to visible struggles, there are also invisible ones. Often, stereotypes or other privileges still play a role. For example, Favoccia said, people need to be aware of so-called unconscious bias when filling positions, which can lead to people with similar backgrounds being given preference. “It is important to know your own privileges and biases,” Patricia Laeri stressed. Lawyer Hussain added: “Many women who have broken the glass ceiling have other privileges,” such unconscious biases also make men more likely to hire men.