28/01/2010 - 00:00

Make the grade on merit, not gender

28/01/2010 - 00:00

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IT’S not a profession that boasts a large number of women, but for those working in the stockbroking sector, gender is irrelevant to what they do.

Make the grade on merit, not gender

IT’S not a profession that boasts a large number of women, but for those working in the stockbroking sector, gender is irrelevant to what they do.

It’s a belief that has grown over the decades, at least since an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald in 1972 disputing a US study that claimed women’s intuition made then more suited to being stockbrokers.

Australia’s first female stockbroker, Margaret Mittelheuser, was reported as saying that regardless of gender, it’s the result that counts.

Fast-forward to 2010 and the attitude remains, with one of Perth’s prominent female stockbrokers, Heather Zampatti, saying success depends on the passion for the job.

“It’s not a nine-to-five job, you’re always on call and that’s because you really do enjoy it,” Ms Zampatti told WA Business News.

Now head of wealth management at Bell Potter Securities, Ms Zampatti started her career at Macquarie in Sydney after being accepted into the company’s graduate program and helped set up Australia’s first cash management trust, when interest rates were 21 per cent.

She has also held senior positions at Bain & Company, before it was taken over by Deutsche Bank, and then spent 10 years at Hartley Poynton, firstly as head of financial planning then as a director.

Ms Zampatti remains mystified at the paucity of female stockbrokers.

“Ever since I joined about 20-plus years ago, there are probably no more women now than they were then, it’s really quite surprising,” she said.

Ms Zampatti said the challenges of the job – long hours and the inability to switch off – were equal for men and women.

She is keen to increase the number of women on boards, with females making up 8.3 per cent of the boards of the ASX top 200 companies.

However, the push to increase the numbers to an even representation between men and women was too ambitious, suggesting that aiming for 10 per cent or 20 per cent would be a good start.

“But you have to be on the board based on merit, not just because you’re a women,” Ms Zampatti said.

 

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