Having the opportunity to speak in front of my peers, alumni, and prospective students on an issue that was so relevant to me was such an honor. Business school provides endless opportunities to develop as a communicator and presenter but this was certainly the most fun.
You may not be surprised to know that there are not any Wall Street movies that star women bankers. That was until Equity premiered in 2016. The movie was written, produced, and directed by women. Even better, it was also funded and informed by actual Wall Street women, including Booth alumna Linnea Roberts, ’90, who recently retired as a partner at Goldman Sachs.
I recently had the honor of participating in a panel discussion on gender equality on Wall Street following a screening of Equity at Chicago Booth’s Gleacher Center in April. The panel was moderated by Linnea Roberts and my co-panelists were Sarah Megan Thomas, Producer and Co-Star of Equity and Gina Lytle, ’09, Vice President at Goldman Sachs. As a second year student, I was thrilled to share my experience preparing for a career in banking, spending my summer on Wall Street, and accepting a job offer. Sitting on the panel reminded me of the tremendous impact of the women in finance who paved the way for me. They established careers that I aspire for while having far fewer female mentors than I have today. Linnea is a wonderful example of someone who has watched the industry embrace women over the course of her career and has dedicated tremendous effort to support successful women in finance.
When I decided to earn my MBA to pursue a career in investment banking, there were people outside of my business school circle who often questioned why I would choose such a demanding career in a male-dominated industry. I was not afraid of a challenge so the fact that it could be hard didn’t seem like reason enough not to try. So far in my time at Booth, I’ve gotten to know Booth alumnae and countless fantastic women with impressive banking careers – all wonderful resources and mentors to me. As the industry seeks to be more inclusive (albeit slowly, as you will find when you watch the movie), it is an exciting time to be joining the banks as a woman.
I first saw Equity on flight shortly after my summer internship experience. I was impacted by how the movie showed us such strong, driven, and complex women and shined a light on topics like mentorship, compensation, family life, and client relationships. Equity is a thrilling story and a reminder for men and women to continue to work toward gender equality on Wall Street. The efforts require sponsorship by men and women, the influence of senior women, and excellence and determination by young women. I was glad to be a small part of the conversation.
Sonja Schut is a second-year student at Booth. She spent her summer internship with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York on the Consumer and Retail group. She will be joining Bank of America Merrill Lynch full-time in Chicago upon graduation.