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Powershift 2014: Women and Finance

Friday 13th June 2014

GBA Newsletter

The 2014 Oxford Power Shift Forum, an annual symposium on women in the global economy focused on women and finance. Key examples of best practice institutions and projects that are doing innovative work in the field were highlighted, and recent academic research on gender was presented.

Larke Riemer, Westpac’s Director of Women’s Markets and GBA Global Ambassador, participated in a panel titled “Winning the Women’s Market: The Business Case”. Larke talked about Westpac’s journey in recognizing and understanding the value of women as customers, how their Women’s Markets program works and the results they have achieved. The audience was very impressed that a bank was doing so much for women and in such a strategic manner.

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The conference also brought a unique academic perspective and some interesting research was highlighted. Julie Nelson, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, presented her research to be featured in an upcoming paper titled “Are Women really more Risk Averse than Men?” Julie reviewed a majority of the research on women and risk and found that on average, the difference in risk levels between men and women was actually very small. Jane Humphries discussed the complex issue of defining and measuring productive activities and the fact that women’s domestic work has never been valued. She argued that the recent increases in women’s participation in the economy are not really a change but an increase in visibility.Other speakers included Goldman Sachs Foundation, the IFC, MasterCard, Walmart, Coca-Cola, among many others. A common thread in the discussions was that access to finance is still a key challenge for women business owners, and banks have strong role to play in closing that gap.

This Forum concluded with The University of Oxford, led by Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton and Sa•d Business School’s Dean Peter Tufano, launching an online petition to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to emphasize women’s economic empowerment.