A Critical Assessment of the Participation of Women in the Banking Sector in Nigeria, 1945-2005




1.1 Background Of The Study

The problem of gender imbalance in the labor market and society at large has been of major concern, most especially for the female gender. As  a result of this, the male gender was historically deemed the greatest match for most opportunities in the labor market, as firms hired more men than women, especially in managerial roles. This approach was ubiquitous in Nigeria’s business organizations, with banks inclusive. However, the banking industry in Nigeria has witnessed amazing developments in the last decades, which have surprisingly resulted in the increasing number of women who have entered the banking profession in recent years (Lamki, 1999).

Women in general have been active in various sectors of economic activities before the onset of colonial administration in the nineteenth century. Throughout the pre-colonial period, women were active in farming, craft production and trade. This was in addition to their obligations within the household. The colonial economy brought in a new mode of employment in which people were paid wages and salaries. During this era, education became so crucial for this sort of new employment. For women, however, access into the new employment which necessitated western education was slow. A girl’s education trailed behind that of boys’ (Robert 1935). . This clearly connotes that few women could be engaged in government services and other structured sectors of the economy.

Colonial employment policies also contributed to the gender inequality in the banking policy. Women were not allowed to work as clerical officers for a long period. As a result, in 1923, the Lagos State Women’s League advocated for women’s recruitment into government service. This plea was not implemented until the early 1950s, when a few women who had passed the Junior Civil Service Entrance Examination were employed as 3rd Class Clerks and only two women who were regarded to have exceptional aptitude were recommended to work in the regular grade as clerical officers (Akindele 2006). As a result of this new development, private employers began frequently hiring women as office workers (Akindele 2006).

Furthermore, the first report of women’s engagement in the banking profession was in 1944, at the Lagos Post Office Savings Bank, twenty-eight years after its establishment (McIntosh, 2004). During this period, women were recognized to be competent and suited for the type of work to which they were assigned.

This study is not merely focused on the development of the banking industry, but essentially on women’s involvement in the industry.

Women’s participation in banking occupations has remained prominent, particularly in the banking industry. Beginning in the early 1940s, women became vital to the successful operation of the industry. As part of their marketing strategy, “new generation” banks solicited the services of women in the late 1980s. Women were found to be effective as business promoters, marketers, and front-line employees (Imoukhuede, 2001). According to the National Bureau of Statistics (2007), women made up 34.7 percent of employed bank workers in 1998, and by 2005, women accounted for 44.28 percent of all bank employees.

The amount of women in the financial sector has risen tremendously since its modest beginnings in the 1940s, reaching 44.28 percent in 2005, but the proportion of women in senior managerial positions was negligible during the research period. Although Imoukhuede’s 2001 study estimated that women in Nigeria held 12 percent of management roles in the banking and financial industry, a glance at the management teams of some of the institutions reveals that few women have risen to the top of their banking profession (Imoukhuede, 2001).

Thus, not only were women not well represented in the management cadre, the position of managing directors or chief executive officers was mostly occupied by men during the period of study. The involvement of women in the banking industry is central to this study.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

Every sector of the economy has experience tremendous growth as a result of the professionals that work in them. History has been known to be the story of past events. Tracing the historical involvement of women in the banking sector of Nigeria is a necessity.

After independence, the few female professionals in the banking industry have been denied equal opportunities as their male colleagues. Gender blind policies, according to Anderson (2000), characterize the nature of the disparate treatment of women in the banking industry. Despite their qualifications and experience in the banking industry, very few women have ever progressed to the managerial cadre in Nigeria’s banking industry (Eleanor, 2005). According to Nwankwo (1981), the number of women in the banking industry has expanded dramatically since its modest beginnings, but the number of women in senior administrative positions in the sector has remained ignored.

Despite the fact that women have made significant contributions to the development of the banking industry, their upward mobility has not always been assured. This is the central issue that this study explores. Not only were women not well represented at the management level, as the position of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer was mostly occupied by men.

1.3 Aim And Objectives

The general aim of this study is to assess women’s participation in the banking sector in Nigeria from 1945 to 2005. Specifically, the study seeks to:

  1. Determine if gender disparity contributes to women’s misrepresentation in top management positions.
  2. Identify if women’s family roles contribute to their misrepresentation in top management positions in the banking industry.
  3. Ascertain the impact of women’s marketing jobs on customer retention in the banking industry.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions guided this study.

1)        Does gender disparity contribute to women’s misrepresentation in top management positions?

2)        Do women’s family roles contribute to their misrepresentation in top management positions in the banking industry?

3)        What is the impact of women in marketing jobs and customer retention in the banking industry?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

This study is significant because it investigates the importance of Nigerian women’s involvement in the workplace, showing the specific advantages and usefulness of women’s participation, particularly in the banking industry. This study will also be relevant to the government and policy makers as well as the ministry of women’s affairs as it will provide an impetus which will help ensure that more qualified women are given the opportunity to rise to the top of the management cadre in their chosen profession. For students and researchers, this study will serve as a source of information for them when conducting research on related topics.

1.6 Scope Of The Study

The study is focused on  assessing women’s participation in the banking sector in Nigeria from 1945-2005. The study  will also determine if gender disparity contributes to women’s misrepresentation in top management positions, 1dentify if women’s family roles contribute to their misrepresentation in top management positions in the banking industry. and ascertain the impact of women in marketing jobs and on customer retention in the banking industry. The respondents for this study will be obtained from the ministry of women affairs in Kwara State.

1.7 Limitation Of The Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Equality: Equality is used to represent the provision of adequate opportunity for men and women to participate in all areas of life on the same basis.

Gender: The term gender is used here to characterize and emphasize the differences between men and women which result from social, cultural and political factors. This does not include the biological or physical differences between men and women.

Gender Role: Gender role is used to explain the different actions of men and women in society which are socially and culturally defined.




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