Fearless Girls and Winning Women: The Politics of Inclusion in Finance After 2008
Chapter 2 Financially Empowered Women: Governing Feminine Financial Subjects
This chapter inquires into the constitution of the gender diversity candidate in finance as a type of subject. One becomes a diversity candidate through participation in diversity programs such as those offered by investment banks and other financial firms, or professional development programs run by a nonprofit. Diversity programs themselves can be considered technologies of governance in the Foucauldian sense, in that they produce the diversity candidate in finance via “the therapeutic, disciplinary, programmatic, institutional and associational activities of everyday life” (Cruikshank 1999: 28). These programs vary in origin – many are created ‘from above’ by industry leaders or D&I professionals, while others are peer-led and involve a greater degree of self-governance and self-help. Arguably the latter are of interest to those concerned with the voluntary appearance of power – how the subject is formed through a sense of autonomous choice to devote oneself to a disciplinary program. To investigate, I spent a year (2019-2020) as a participant observer in a new chapter of a student organization promoting women’s professional empowerment in finance (pseudonym Financially Empowered Women (FEW)). Over the course of this fieldwork, I observed the activities this group of students undertook in order to fashion themselves into emerging professional women in finance. Here I explore the origins and motivations behind the formation of this particular organization chapter, as well as the key components of membership through which participants aim to become empowered and qualified diversity recruits in the financial industry. This analysis highlights the political rationalities, logics, empowerment frames and identities employed via the financialization of the feminine subject (Prugl 2011).