How I am breaking gender barriers through Women in Finance

Tuesday, January 25, 2022
by Claire, SFM student

Contributing to a field I care about while building meaningful skills and connections

Hi everyone! I’m Claire, a first-year student in the new Sustainability and Financial Management (SFM) program at the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF). I am also the communications executive for the Women in Finance (WIF) team, and my biggest responsibility is writing the monthly newsletter, WIF Monthly Highlights.

Photo of Claire B. kneeling next to a tree in the winter

I was introduced to WIF as I was preparing to start my first year at Waterloo. One of my peer mentors for the summer happened to be Puneet, the co-head of WIF, who let us know that Women in Finance was accepting applications for the fall term. I started looking into the initiative and was immediately drawn to the idea of a team dedicated to educating and breaking barriers for women in the finance industry. Despite progress over the years, women still have to work harder than their male counterparts for better standing in the workplace; women in finance and insurance especially face some of the largest pay gaps of any industry. Needless to say, it’s a topic I am very passionate about, and as someone who would be directly affected by these barriers, I wanted the opportunity to tackle them head-on. I applied the following day, knowing that WIF was the perfect place to accomplish this.

A few months later, I can happily say that WIF is one of my favourite experiences as a Waterloo student. Through the monthly newsletter, I’m able to explore a variety of fascinating current finance issues as well as learn more about influential women in the finance industry. What I enjoy even more than the newsletter is WIF’s team. To be able to collaborate with such a driven and passionate group of students is a rare opportunity, but one I have been lucky enough to find in my first year at Waterloo. It has been amazing to be a part of this group as we work on a variety of events such as résumé critiques, workshops, and our mentorship program. There have been so many great projects to work on in my short time here, and the group provides a very supportive environment with socials, coffee chats, and even a Secret Santa event leading up to the holidays.

The most challenging part of my term has been learning to balance my time. It’s been tough at times, but I’ve come a long way from my first week, and I can attribute a lot of my growth to the support systems I’ve found as a member of WIF and SAF. Being able to build connections with more experienced upper-year students and knowing there are people to go to for questions or extra help has been extremely beneficial. It has also given me the motivation to take risks and attempt new things, like networking at events and workshops, which is something I never thought I’d be good at.

Having accomplished so much in my short time with WIF I am very excited to see what comes next. There’s already a lot to look forward to, especially WIF’s annual conference in February, which is one of our biggest events. With a behind-the-scenes perspective, I’m learning that a lot goes into planning such an event, and I can tell that this is going to be a great experience. There are going to be some phenomenal panelists to learn from, with a variety of backgrounds that will be very inspirational for students in finance. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

Overall, Women in Finance has been an amazing journey so far. It has given me the chance to contribute to positive change in a field that I truly care about, as well as the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and find what interests me the most. I’d highly recommend that anyone who is interested should check out our social media platforms and get involved!