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Promoting women to MD in investment banking: multi-level influences

Patricia Pryce (Cranfield School of Management, International Centre for Women Leaders, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Ruth Sealy (Cranfield School of Management, International Centre for Women Leaders, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 4 November 2013




Women remain underrepresented at senior levels in global investment banks. By investigating promotion processes in this sector, and using the concept of a multi-level, relational framework, this paper seeks to examine macro, micro, and meso-level influences, and the interplay between them, as explanations for why more progress is not being made.


Data are taken from two projects with a total of 50 semi-structured interviews with male and female directors and managing directors (MDs), across six investment banks discussing careers and promotions. An inductive approach was taken to data analysis.


Women's lack of representation at the top of investment banks is not simply an individual level problem but is the result of the dynamic interplay between macro- and meso-level influences that impact individual agency, identity and perception of fit.

Research limitations/implications

Public debate should be refocused around the meso-level influences of what organizations can do to promote more inclusive cultures and structures thereby enabling more women to achieve MD positions in investment banking.


The paper considers challenges women face in their promotion to MD using a multi-level framework demonstrating the impact of each level and their interconnectedness. It contributes to the limited qualitative research exploring the career experiences of senior level individuals in global financial services firms.



The authors would like to thank Mary Godwyn for her comments on an earlier version of this paper.


Pryce, P. and Sealy, R. (2013), "Promoting women to MD in investment banking: multi-level influences", Gender in Management, Vol. 28 No. 8, pp. 448-467.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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