The Involvement of women in the Banking Industry in Nigeria, 1944-2005
Women’s participation in economic field has a long history which could be traced to the precolonial period. Across Nigeria, and indeed Africa, women are noted for their economic activity, and authority. In traditional Nigerian society, women were involved in farming, craft making and trading. This was in addition to their responsibilities within the home. In the new colonial economy, women’s involvement in the professions was slow. The earliest account of women involvement in the banking industry was in the early 1940s when women were first employed at the Lagos Post Office Savings Bank on temporary basis and as Assistant Clerical Officers. Scholars have come up with different perspectives on the issue of the involvement of women in the public domain and the influence of culture on the distribution of gender role. The context of the different perspectives informs the problem of this study. Cultural expectations with regard to family roles have influenced the economic activities of Nigerian women since precolonial times. This reality has influenced women’s involvement in the banking industry. The percentage of women in the banking industry has grown progressively since the late colonial times. Yet very few women have ever risen to the management position in the banking profession in Nigeria. This is the central issue that this study explores. The study examines issues that affect women’s involvement in the banking industry and also identifies the challenges they have faced. Two theories were used for the purpose of this study: the theory of liberal feminism and the theory of tokenism. Both theories contribute to our understanding of issues that affect women’s greater involvement in the workplace especially at the top management cadre. The study adopted an interdisciplinary approach and the use of relevant primary and secondary sources of information. Oral evidence was collected by using the unstructured interview method. The work reveals the need for gender balance in the banking industry. The study establishes a close connection between female’s upward mobility and women exclusion from decision making process. It reveals the ‘instrumentation’ of women’s sexuality to achieve banking goals without a corresponding change in women’s status in the industry. It aalso establishes a strong link between cultural expectations such as women’s family role and women’s job preference in the banking industry. The study recommends the domestication and more meaningful protection of women’s right by the existing laws.