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Research Publication 201

January 2008

Research Paper

The Role of women in banking: An

Indian Perspective

Sai Krishna Kumara Swamy

II ‘D’

St. Josephs College of Commerce


Author: Sai Krishna KumaraSwamy Page 1

Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

# 163 Brigade Road, Bangalore 560011


The antiquated Indian banking system has its roots in the nineteenth century. The

character and structure of the system has, however, changed substantially since 1969,

when the major banks were nationalized. Prior to nationalization, banking was

concentrated in urban areas. It was clear that a better banking system was needed to

promote the economic goals of the new Indian state. Rural markets for industrial goods

could not be developed so long as moneylenders, charging usurious rates of interest, were

the main source of rural credit. Moreover, the 'green revolution' depended on farmers

finding substantial sources of credit to pay for fertilizers and hybrid seeds.

Since the mid-1970s, there has been a spectacular growth in the spatial distribution of

bank branches and in the size of their deposits and advances. According to experts in

banking this transformation has no parallel anywhere in the world. After nationalization,

there was also a change in recruitment policy. For the first time, the doors of the banks

were opened to everyone, irrespective of family status, caste, community, religion or

gender. Recruitment was placed on a more systematic basis, with merit assessed by

aptitude tests conducted by an external agency in a relatively impartial manner

As the size of the banking sector increased, the industry became difficult to manage.

Computer technology offered a possible solution. In India, a small number of industrial

houses and a few educational, research and development institutions started using

computers in the early 1960s. During the late 1960s and 1970s, service-oriented

industries such as airlines, railways and insurance companies introduced computers to

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'improve their functioning' and 'to provide better customer service’. Banks in India did

not, however, introduce computers on a large scale because of the fear that these would

result in retrenchment and unemployment. For a long time Indian banks faced very little

competition and operated in a protected economy. Thus no long-term policy or

perspective for the banking sector was formulated: it was simply treated as part of the

public sector. This is now changing. Well-computerized foreign banks are beginning to

compete seriously with the nationalized banks. They aim at a profitable and wealthy part

of the market and, in contrast to the nationalized banks, do not recognize any social

responsibilities to small account holders or to a rural and semi-urban clientele. This has

necessitated the public sector banks to go in for a structural reformation – both in terms

of policies and people. Today, there are 19 nationalized banks in India, each trying to

outdo the other and also at the same time steadfast to protect the interests of the country

and the public sector banks. The State Bank of India and its associates, Canara Bank,

Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Centurion Bank are a few remarkable banks

to name. They now bank upon their financial stability and reputation as a Government

sector bank to perform and appeal to the customers. They try to provide to the public

what the other private banks fail to give. Thus, capitalizing on the shortcomings of

private foreign banks. Our banks are trying to convert these threats into opportunities.

Thus the role of nationalized banks has increased manifold in the process of nation

building and converging the Indian economy with the global economy.

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010


The principal factor that propelled this study was the increasing importance of the

banking sector in the Indian economy and also the escalating contribution of women in

this sector.

The focus of the research is twofold. One is the analysis and appraisal of the contribution,

condition and the future of women in this sector. The other, ancillary to the study, is an

investigation into the causes and consequences of the infinitesimal number of women at

the Executive level in banks.

The Statement reads:

“An inquiry into the status, work conditions and role of women in the banking sector with

special focus on the cause and consequence of their petite participation at the executive



1. To study the scenario of Indian banking sector

2. To analyze the role of women in the Indian banking sector

3. To discuss the work culture and work environment of women in banks

4. Elucidate the reasons for the poor participation of women at the executive levels

in banks

5. A study into the future of women in banking

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010


• The discipline in which the study is conducted is Commerce and Industry, with

the topic being drawn from the banking sector. The main focus is however on the

role of women in Indian banks with special reference to public sector banks.

• The geographic scope of the study extends to the territorial boundaries of India

and predominantly the urban areas.

• The timescale of the study extends from the bank nationalization period i.e. 1961

to 2008.


The research has been largely conducted on the basis of primary data collected during the

course of study.

The method of collecting data was telephonic interview, where the views and opinions of

the respondents were collected on a one to one basis.

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010



The origin of women in the banking sector is a chronicle of fascination. The entry of

women in this field and their gradual promotion into other sectors of this industry is not

only a story of professional advancement, but also the tale of emancipation of the Indian

women - an emotional and psychological journey of the fairer sex. The earliest records of

women bankers can be traced back to the 1950s, when a nascent and independent India

embarked upon the task of nation building, of which banking is a very integral part. At

the urban level, women entered the banking sector out of their love for paper work.

Instinctively inclined towards clerical services and administration, they suited the needs

of these huge banks spread throughout the length and breadth of the country. They

worked as clerks and at tenders, who looked after the internal management and

administration of the bank branches.

At the rural level, women’s participation in banking and financial services originated at

home and self help groups. At the domestic level, women are known to be in house

economists unto whom the finances of the house were entrusted. With their astute sense

of money matters, they rightly managed large families with limited incomes.

Furthermore, locally organized self help groups mostly comprised of women and

functioned successfully generating mutual benefits to all the members. Thus banks

employed the skills of these women in their rural operations, thereby initiating women’s

participation in the industry.

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

As time went by, with the onset of women’s education and awareness programmes of the

Government, more and more employment opportunities sprang up for them in the

services sector. Owing to the nature of the work and accommodative timings, women

preferred the banking sector to other professions in the service industry. This marked the

entry of women into the Indian banking scenario, a gender revolution, which would

change the face of banking for good in the years to come.


Women have played a vital role in the development of Indian banking system over the

years. Their chief contribution is at the operational level – administration and frontline

paper job. It is not a rare sight to see a multitude of women sitting in neatly arranged

desks attending to the customers’ needs in our Indian banks. Thus it is pretty obvious that

a huge proportion of the female population in banks is serving at the clerical cadre. The

reason for such concentration at one particular level is the requirements and

responsibilities of the job. All that one requires to secure a bank job is a bachelor’s

degree from a recognized University and clear the Banker’s entrance exam. The functions

and responsibilities of a job at the clerical scale are minimal. Above all, the most

important factor to be taken note of is work timings. For most of our Indian women who

juggle family and career together, a 9 to 5 job is very accommodative and preferred by all

of them. Probably this is also one of the reasons why very few women opt for promotions

and climb the corporate ladder. Following is a chart showing the number of women

serving at the clerical scale over the years in various Indian public sector banks, asserting

my conviction that it is their most preferred rank in the banking sector.

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

Distribution of women in indian banks from 1969 to 2008

Percentage in decimals

0.5 Year
0.4 Number
0.3 Expon. (Number)


1 2 3 4 5

Given below is the chart showing percentage of women across various public sector

banks, as on 2008.

Bank wise distribution of women




30 Women



State Bank of Canara Bank Bank of India Syndicate Corporation Dena Bank
India Bank Bank

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

It is evident from the graph that:

(i) The percentage of women has consistently increased from an average of 13%

in 1969 to around 47% in 2008

(ii) The pattern of women in the banking sector is more or less similar in all the

banks in the industry

The next focus is on the nature of work that women do at the clerical scale. From issuing

money sitting at the cash counter, receiving payments to updating passbooks and clearing

instruments, they undertake all responsibilities at the branch level. Their job includes a

host of activities including day beginning, data entry, managing customers at the counter

real time updating of records, reconciliations, paper work, regular visits to the

clearinghouses, The RBI, inter branch correspondence and ultimately performing day end

operations. One needs to know that the clerical rank in banks, though the lowest in terms

of professional cadre is certainly of prime importance for it constitutes nearly 65 % of the

bank’s work. Thus we can gather that women carry out most of the bank’s functionally

vital operations and this further corroborates the fact that women play an essential role in

Indian public sector banks.

Yet another area of work in banks that are mainly women oriented are the secretariats of

executives, wherein women hold the office of personal secretaries and assistants. In most

banks, one can unmistakably notice that women occupy most executives’ secretariats.

The prime reason for this yet again the clerical nature of work – maintaining diaries,

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taking dictations, updating schedules, receiving guests and other authorities, planning

travel schedules and supervising bank correspondence. It is empirically proven that

women are admirable at handling such portfolios and hence every bank prefers a woman

to handle such affairs. Women’s aspirations for such work and their success rates have

been s high that they have invariably lead to an ‘off the record reservation’ of such

secretarial jobs for women. Nearly every third national bank’s secretarial operations are

principally handled by women.

A scrutiny of the remaining ranks in a bank at the divisional level leads us to observe that

women’s participation is considerably lesser than compared to the clerical level but

nevertheless adequate. At the level of officers of scale 1,2 and 3 we can see that many

women take up promotions and also shoulder the responsibility of running an individual

branch. However, when it comes to the designation of Chief Managers and Regional

Managers, women are a rare sighting for they often refuse to carry the burden of

supervising an entire zone or region. This often hinders their chances of reaching the

executive level and in a way saturates their professional advancement. The main reason

for women to decline such offers is the huge amount of responsibility, accountability,

untimely working hours and the huge level of physical and mental stress involved. To run

a region consisting of 100 branches and more puts the managerial personnel under a lot

of pressure, the pressure to perform and sustain profitability. Women, who often have to

attend to a family apart from working, refuse to take up such jobs that consume their time

and attention. As per bank records of various banks, the average number of women at the

divisional level would constitute about 4 to 7 % of the bank’s employees. Thus we notice

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that the role of women in the divisional level at banks is small but considerably


And as far as the executive level in a bank goes, the participation of women is elfin. The

cause and consequence of the same are discussed later in this article.

The graph below shows the cadre wise participation of women in a public sector bank at

all levels of organization.

Cadre wise participation of women

Divisional managers
Regional Managers
General Managers

Before concluding our study on the role of women in banks, we also need to make a

quick analysis of the department wise involvement of women in bank. This not only

helps us to infer the quality of work done by women but also speaks of female

psychology and their propensity to do all sorts of work. A bank is usually divided into

various departments to function as independent units so that there is a division of work

and smooth functioning of the bank throughout the country. Some of the foremost

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departments would be the Dept. of Planning, Dept. of Credit and Recoveries, Dept. of

Vigilance, Dept. of Administration, Dept. of Legal and Corporate Affairs, Dept. of

Information Technology etc and only those who have taken up promotions and entered

the divisional cadre are eligible to shoulder responsibilities of these departments. So the

scope of this analysis is restricted to only those women who serve at divisional levels in

the organization. Empirical evidence suggests that women often prefer Departments

whose activities are supplementary or incidental to core banking functions. This suggests

that women prefer doing that kind of work which suits them or which they are already

equipped to do rather than taking up challenging tasks that require high degree of

professional commitment and dedication. The palpable rationale behind this is that

women are more inclined towards their family than their careers. Work for them is just a

means of livelihood, a source of income. They only incentive they seek are monetary

rewards and not professional satisfaction. Not that they are not capable of or not

interested in their career’s advancement, but their commitment towards their family in

terms of time and energy does not permit them to seek professional contentment.

Let us take for instance the Dept. of Information Technology. After the recent

developments in this sector, banks have introduced the concepts of nodal officers. Each

nodal officer is an officer from the Dept. of Information Technology, who is assigned a

number of branches in a given area. This can easily vary from 5 to 50 or sometimes even

more. The job of each nodal officer is to ensure the efficiency of information systems at

the branch level. It includes trouble shooting and software upgradation on a timely basis.

Consequently, this involves regular visits to each branch in the allotted region. Given the

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nature and requirements of the work, very few women have opted for this since inception.

The same goes with the Dept of Credit and Recovery, which involves a lot of physical

and mental stress and exertion.

Thus we find that a large portion of the female population in a bank is directed towards

subsidiary functions in administrative departments. The apparent favorite amongst

women is the Dept. of Planning and Development, which is usually the creative think

tank of the organization. Time and again, women have proved be successful in this

department that exploits their creativity and intellect. They have also shown their aptitude

at working in the Dept. of General Administration, Dept. of premises& Maintenance,

Personnel Dept. However, the Dept of Recovery, Dept. of Risk Management and Dept.

of Treasury and international banking clearly continue to remain a man’s world. So, it

would be apposite to construe that as far as Indian public sector banks go, women choose

to perform auxiliary functions over core banking functions. The below given chart shall

pictorially elucidate the aforementioned.

Department wise distribution of women


5% Corporate Credit Division
13% Retail banking
Planning & Development
Information Technology
Priority sector credit
General Administration
31% Personnel
5% Risk Management

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After having analyzed the origin of women in the banking sector and the role they play,

we shall now study the work conditions of women in banks. Before we proceed we need

to take note of one very important factor that regulates the work culture of women in

Indian banks. Culturally rich as it is, India does give special attention to the welfare of

women. Extending the constitutional provisions for women’s welfare, banks, at all

possible places try to protect the interests of women. So much so that this goes beyond

the bank’s rulebook, wherein numerous personal considerations are given to women in

many aspects concerning their job. Thus, the work culture of women is largely influenced

by socio- cultural factors than organizational conventions.

Today, the face of banking in India is rapidly developing and has changed a lot since the

days of nationalization. With the onset of globalization and privatization, bankers have to

constantly be on their heels. At this juncture of development, especially in a mixed

economy like India, which seeks to strike a balance between capitalism and socialism,

banks need to put in additional efforts to sustain themselves profitably. Consequently, the

gender distinction in banks has started to fade. Women are no longer looked upon as the

fairer sex or the weaker sex but have been urged to participate in the bank’s activities at

all levels. Women are increasingly being given portfolios that were earlier handled by

men. It is no longer a rare sight to see women working until late night in their offices and

shouldering responsibilities beyond their capabilities. Shortage of manpower and industry

demands have forced employees to take up multiple portfolios at the same time, women

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being no exception. Also, monetary incentives have driven women to take up promotions

alongside which they assume huge amount of accountability and responsibility.

Consequently, the work environment of women is no longer secure but all the more

competitive. The first major constraint they face is longer working hours. With concepts

such as 8 to 8 banking and more number of women in core banking departments, their

work timings easily stretch from 9 to 12 hours a day. And during crucial periods such as

quarter end balance sheet preparation and audit, they virtually spend the whole day at

work. This has caused a lot of inconvenience for women as it eats away into the already

limited time they have for their family. Laments Ms. Sujatha of Bank of Baroda, ‘the

concept of 8 to 8 banking has increased our working hours beyond 10 hours a day. What

the public fails to realize is that we have a lot of work in the branch after business hours.

If we transact for 12 hours a day, all other branch work gets disrupted for one day’s work

gets carried over to the next day’. Suggest her about introducing the concept of shifts she

quickly retorts ‘given the level of pay and requirements of the job, no one is ready to

enter this industry. Nothing can be done unless we raise our pay scales’. Thus it is pretty

clear that women are uncomfortable with their work timings.

Their next major problem as regards their work conditions is the concept of transfers and

deployments. Though individual to every bank in respect of tenure and domicile, women

often find transfers daunting. The greatest setback for women is their inability to relocate

their family or stay away from home for tenure of 4 to 5 years. Hence they avoid

promotions which are mostly accompanies by transfers. Even in case of general transfers,

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women often are unwilling to accept them and if their successive appeals are unheard,

they sometimes resort to resignation. This not only makes the possibility of their

promotions bleak, but also robs them of valuable banking experience. However, certain

banks are very particular as regards their transfer policies and they have no special

considerations in case of transfers for women. This puts them at the disadvantageous end

of the bargain. Ms. Swarnalatha of Canara Bank says, ‘The management needs to realize

that unlike men, women cannot easily detach themselves from familial duties and take up

transfers. Even intra city transfers are manageable but interstate transfers, especially to

the north makes it impossible for us to commute between our hometown and work place.’

Many women brush aside talks of equality and job satsisfacton, claiming that family is

their prior concern and they will at no cost whatsoever trade off personal benefits for

professional benefits.

Digging deeper into the labyrinths of bank management, we are forced to believe that in

many banks, especially in the rural and semi rural branches male hegemony continues to

be in practice. This puts women in a vulnerable situation where they are neither given

equal opportunities nor are their interests protected. In these cases, women often work

under constant fear of their male counterparts. Though dubious in veracity, we are told

that women face constant threat to their modesty and security in the male dominated rural

branches of many banks. Says a source who does not wish to be named, ‘the condition of

women employees here are pitiable. We are controlled by men at every place possible –

we are told what to do, how to do and when to do. We cannot do anything beyond what

they tell us to do. If anyone of us even contemplates complaining to the management, our

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security is at stake. We are helpless.’ Thus it is clear that women, at least a certain section

of them do face threats to their sovereignty at public sector banks. However, one cannot

generalize this view for it is unqualified and unendorsed by many a person.

Nevertheless, one has to accept that women do enjoy their work in the banking sector.

Problems and Crises are part and package of every profession and are aptly called

professional hazards. Women seem to have imbibed this ideology and have successfully

proved themselves in their careers. Another interesting discovery of mine after my

interaction with a few women is that some of them consider work as a place of haven –

away from the quarrels and worries of their family. Consequently many women look at

work as a means of engagement of their thoughts, away from their domestic troubles and

are thus very happy to work. This is a win-win situation for the employee reaps the

benefit for personal satisfaction and the bank reaps the benefit of professional satisfaction

in the form of high employee morale and profitability. Despite all hurdles and

inconveniences, women seem to take pleasure in the nature of their work. In a survey of

about 25 working women as regards their job satisfaction, following were the results that

substantiate the above said.

Job satisfaction of w om en

Number of women

6 Women
Very Satisfied Satisfied Not satisfied Neutral
Job Satisfaction

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

Surprisingly, my interaction with a lady employee of a private bank gives a totally

different picture of their work culture as compared to the nationalized banks. In

pursuance of their lofty HR practices and fair practice code, private banks take all efforts

to ensure the security, solidarity and success of women working with them. Creation of

women’s cell, women’s only branch and free counseling are few of the numerous efforts

undertaken by these private players to ensure women’s empowerment. Whether they do it

genuinely or as a strategy to create a better public image is immaterial to us, for as long

as they are doing something good for women, we have no reason to complain. Going by

what our source describes, women are given equal opportunities in all levels of the

organization. They are constantly encouraged to take up challenging assignments and

give their valuable contributions. Even in case of transfers and promotions, women’s

concerns are kept in mind and accommodative measures are taken. Thus women at

private banks feel more secure and comfortable for there they are guaranteed equality of

professional opportunities and incentives.


Coming to a very special feature of this research article, I have tried to investigate as to

why women always elude the Boardroom. Is it their fault or is the management to blame?

When can we see women at the helm of affairs? It is a known fact that since

nationalization, very few women have climbed the corporate ladder and occupied

executive positions in banks. I asked myself these questions at the beginning of my study

- Is it really so that banking is a man’s world? Why are women not seen at the top – are

they incapable or are they just not interested?

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The answer to these questions is as intricate and complex as the questions themselves.

One needs to know that a lot of parameters are involved and a lot of brainstorming goes

into selecting the executive members of a bank. Being a public financial institution

dealing with public money, the executives are required to be highly proficient,

experienced and accountable. Thus their appointments make national news, so much so

that the Ministry of Finance directly concerns itself and looks into their appointments.

Given the importance of the position and responsibility of the job, why is it so that very

few women reach the top? The answer is simple – personal and psychological factors

deter women from thinking big and consequently making it big in a bank. The journey to

the top begins at the clerical level and the person’s track records during his or her tenure

at the bank are scrutinized carefully. One needs to have an excellent track record – of

having served in all types of branches (rural and urban) and all departments (core banking

and auxiliary). Most importantly, one needs to take up promotional exams and move up

the scales and ranks to enter the ever-envied corner room of the bank. As has already

been discussed earlier, women fail to take up promotional exams owing to the fear of

transfers and subsequent tensions. This impairs their chances of reaching the top, as it is

impossible to enter the boardroom with mere clerical service. Says Mr. Kumara Swamy

of Corporation Bank, “an executive member of the bank is selected after many rounds of

discussion and profound consideration. The gender of the candidate is immaterial as long

as the right person is chosen for the right post at the right time. Nevertheless, I am both

curious and optimistic of a lady chairman in the near future.” Thus it is clear that the

management of bank are indifferent towards the gender of the candidate, which means

women have an equal chance of entering the boardroom as much as men. It is up to the

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women to have a successful track record and prove their mettle to the management and

occupy the coveted seat.

Moreover, women face the pull from personal factors such as family and health

problems. Many women bankers jump to the conclusion of resignation in the event of

domestic strife, failing to realize that such hesitant decisions affect their professional life.

There also certain section of women who quit their job once their spouse is in a well of

position or their children start earning. Some ladies also claim to have ‘given up

everything to be with their children and family’. However sweet these claims may sound,

these are certainly one of the prime factors responsible for the waiflike participation of

women at the executive level. ‘This is nothing but female psychology’ says Ms. Deepa of

ICICI Bank. ‘We women are definitely strong and are capable of doing every job that a

man does but it is also true that we are emotionally bound to our family than our

husbands. A man would never quit his job or give up his professional ambitions for his

family but a woman would. We may lose out on quite a number of things but we are

definitely happy to give them all up for simple pleasures of life.’ Thus it is pretty

unambiguous that working women value their personal lives more than their careers and

often give up the latter for the former. Thus it is no mystery to see such few women at the

executive levels in banks.

Coming to the health aspect, the average age of reaching the executive level in a bank is

the mid forties. Coincidentally, women enter their menopausal stage at more or less the

same time. Bogged down by the varied symptoms of reaching middle age, women are

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often both physically and mentally weak. Such weakness dissuades them from taking on

demanding assignments and resultantly, they loose out on their chances to occupy senior

positions. Says Dr. Arundathi, leading gynaecologist “Working women inevitably

confront menopausal problems that pose a serious threat to their health if left unattended.

During such times, it is very arduous for them to juggle family, personal health and work.

More than medical attention, they need psychological and emotional support from family

members and people at work place. However, there are certain women who have coped

up with all of these problems and have made it big in their careers.” Thus health

concerns are also one of the prime reasons that discourage women from taking up

promotions that act as a passport to the boardroom.

However, there are certain women who refuse to accept defeat and believe that they can

make it to the top with determination and dedication. Rubbishing claims that woman are

incapable of running a bank, Ms. Vijaya Kumara Swamy, frontrunner to the Boardroom

at SyndicateBank quotes, ‘Indians choose to believe that being a woman is the greatest

disadvantage. On the contrary, I think every working woman must stand up for herself

and prove to the world that they are wrong. As women, we may be bound by a lot of

personal and professional attachments that retard our career’s growth, but I believe that a

woman is gifted enough to transcend all these barriers and build a successful career and

family. The crux of the problem lies in low self-confidence. Unless every woman

believes in her capabilities she cannot reach where she aspires to be.’ And as she signs

off, she gives me this really interesting quote “If you think you cant you have lost”. So

here we get to see the other face of lady bankers, messiahs of feminism, who think that a

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woman can overcome all her disadvantages with ease if she believes in herself. As we

conclude this segment, we have a graph below citing various reasons as to why women

do not make it to the executive levels in banks:

Reasons for w om en eluding the Boardroom

Family commitments
Health concerns
Huge Responsibilities
Management Bias
Not interested
I cant do it


The future of Indian women bankers is certainly bright as the year begins on a light note -

with the news of the industry being Ms. Chanda Kochhar taking over as the Managing

Director of India’s largest private bank, ICICI Bank. Nothing else is as reassuring and

encouraging for women as the news of a woman running the country’s largest private

bank. Even the Government of India seems to endorse women’s empowerment with the

appointment of Ms. Usha Thorat and Ms. Shyamala Gopinath as deputy governors of the

esteem Reserve Bank of India. The current breed of bankers seems optimistic about

women’s participation at all levels in the banking sector. Banks are doing all that is

possible within their individual and collective capacities to augment the role of women in

the industry.

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The first step taken in this endeavour is the obliteration of the gender bias as regards the

work delegated in the banks. Today, women are employed in all departments, whether

core banking or auxiliary. They are also expected to stay back long hours, assume

responsibilities, travel between places as and when required. They are treated at par with

men at every place possible without compromising on their security and interests. Says

Ms. Manjula of SyndicateBank who works in the Dept. of Information Technology, ‘at

the divisional level, there are more women in our department than there are men. It is a

symbol of our success and representation. Women efficiently manage one of the most

important departments in our bank. It is a matter of pride for us.’ Thus women are being

trained in all spheres of work at banks.

Banks are also considering the provision of additional non-monetary incentives for

women who take up promotional exams and transfers. This not only helps in women’s

empowerment but also ensures proportional representation of women at the directorial

cadre. Mr. Raja Raman of Yes Bank explains, ‘We at Yes bank value the contribution of

our female staff and have great belief in their capabilities. To increase the number of

women opting for higher ranks in the bank, we are devising a strategy that can

economically provide them with supplementary rewards and benefits. We are also trying

to alleviate the problem of transfers and deployment by trying to introduce localized

administration.’ Thus it is evident that banks are trying to promote women’s participation

at higher levels in the organization.

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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

And as far as the future of women honchos in banks go, all that one can say is that

banking is no longer a man’s world. Women are welcome into the boardroom as long as

they conform to all requirements of the job. Translating the same into reality, we have

Ms. H A Daruwalla leading Central Bank of India, Ms. Ranjana Kumar assuming the

post of Vigilance commissioner at the Vigilance commission and Ms. Manisha Girotra

being appointed as Chairperson of UBS Warburg, India. As of 2008, we have nearly 45

women occupying top spots in Indian banks, which clearly indicate the possibility of a

bright future for women in the banking sector. As I conclude, here is what Ms. Chanda

Kochhar had to say, on her appointment as the MD of ICICI Bank, ‘Women can deal

with any issue of life on the basis of equality and they need no special privileges. They

can perform whatever task given to them with efficiency and responsibility.’ Ask her

about her secret formula for success she candidly says, ‘ Whenever there is a challenge, I

see an opportunity’. Wishing her all success in this endeavour, I would like to wrap up by

quoting “It does not matter how much you want, all that matters is how much you want



Enlisted below are the principal findings of my research:

(i) Since inception, women have been an integral part of the Indian Banking

system. However, their role in the industry has changed over time from being

support staff to executives.

(ii) Despite empirical evidence suggesting that women excel in secretarial and

clerical work, they have proved the world wrong by assuming gargantuan

24 Author: Sai Krishna KumaraSwamy

Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

responsibilities in the fields of treasury and risk management, core banking,

corporate finance and insurance.

(iii) A majority of the women serve at the clerical cadre in banks and prefer it to

other ranks owing to flexible timings and nature of work. They also fancy

working in administrative departments than serving in departments involving

core-banking functions.

(iv) As regards the work conditions, women offer two views that are diametrically

different in nature. While one set of ladies claim that they work under a lot of

physical and mental pressure there is a group of women who assert that they

enjoy working in an environment that challenges their genius.

(v) Women refuse to take up promotional exams and shape their careers owing to

various personal and professional reasons and are thus deterred from reaching

the top positions in the banks.

(vi) The current industry scenario indicates that gender bias in banks is fading

rapidly and women are performing at par with men, handling diverse

portfolios and confronting the instabilities in their work environment with


(vii) Lastly, bankers from the industry are very optimistic about women stepping

into the Bank’s Boardroom and taking charge of its affairs in greater numbers

than before.

25 Author: Sai Krishna KumaraSwamy

Research Publication, SJCC- 2010


Coming to the closing segment of the research paper, it is time we draw conclusions. The

Indian banking sector is in one of its finest phases ever since inception, for its role in

propelling India to be an economic superpower by 2050 is all the more important like

never before. India’s bankers are at the peak of their professional glory and their

involvement in India’s success story is ever mounting. However, in this rat race, women

are not to be left out. Women have, are and will contribute a lot to the Indian banking

industry. Be it at whatever level professionally, their input has always been valuable and

essential in the bank’s administration. Today, women are increasingly taking over

professionally challenging and tasking portfolios that add value and experience to their

careers. The work environment and conditions in banks are most conducive for the ideal

Indian woman who juggles a family and career simultaneously. Such accommodative

features of this industry magnetize more and more women and consequently their

numbers are increasing in the industry. Also, bankers in the industry are very optimistic

about women reaching executive levels in the bank provided they work towards it with

determination and devotion. Thus, in the years to come, it would no longer be a rarity to

see women occupying key positions in banks. Lastly, as a word to all female bankers who

aspire to taste professional success by climbing the corporate ladder, here is my personal

word of advice, “Success knows no gender – all that counts is the desire to dream big and

the dedication to work towards.”

26 Author: Sai Krishna KumaraSwamy

Research Publication, SJCC- 2010


I thank the following persons for their immense contribution towards this research:

Mr. Kumara Swamy K

Ms. Vijaya Kumara Swamy

Ms. Chanda Kochhar

Ms. Sujatha

Ms. Swarnalatha

Ms. Deepa

Ms. Manjula

Dr. Arundathi

Mr. Raja Raman


1. All graphs and pictorial representations are based on the data collected from a

survey of 25 women bankers from a cross section of the industry

2. Numerical calculations and approximations have been made where necessary

3. The views endorsed by the participants of the study are purely personal and may

not conform to the view of the bank.


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Research Publication, SJCC- 2010

28 Author: Sai Krishna KumaraSwamy