Conestoga news

December 3, 2023 11:01 PM

Conestoga professor wins award for presentation on ground-breaking research

A Conestoga finance professor was honoured with an award for an outstanding presentation on her CNERG-funded research on the barriers women face in the financial planning sector.

Tanya Staples (1).jpg
Conestoga professor Tanya Staples was honoured with an award for a presentation on her CNERG-funded research on the barriers women face in the financial planning sector.

Tanya Staples won the Best Research Presentation Award at the 2023 Financial Planning Academics Forum and 11th Personal Finance Symposium, hosted by the University of South Australia on November 19-20.

Conestoga’s Office of Research Services hosts the Emerging Research Grant (CNERG) competition.

CNERG provides support for projects up to $10,000 to encourage the growth of new and emerging areas of research. Also piloting this year, CNERG+ will fund research activities between $25,000 to $100,000. Both are open to full-time and eligible part-time faculty as well as full-time administrative staff.

Staples also delivered a version of her award-winning presentation at the November School of Business Lunch & Learn, sparking a great discussion about research and women in the financial realm.

Industry numbers reflect Staples’ experience as a certified financial planner, having always worked surrounded by men. Less than one in three financial planners in Canada are women.

“The needle has not moved at all in 15 years,” said Staples, finance professor in Conestoga’s School of Business and PhD student. “It has not increased. It has not decreased. It is just static.”

Staples began to wonder what was stopping so many women from entering and advancing in the financial sector.

Finding an absence of Canada-specific data, the research team including three students started looking at women’s experience in financial planning globally. The literature review revealed a real consistency in what kept women out of the profession or from being promoted.

Five barriers were identified: conscious and unconscious gender bias and discrimination; absence of targeted leadership development programs for women; organizational supports do not reflect women’s needs or experiences; out-of-date compensation models and policies contribute to gender pay gap; and lack of information, misunderstand and myths about the profession.

There’s the lingering perception that women are less skilled in many areas perceived as required for the profession. But Staples said the industry is evolving from product-based sales to a holistic, advice-driven profession - a good fit for women.

“The profession is all about helping. I think it’s a mindset change we need to focus on,” Staples said.

Michelle Grimes, executive dean of the School of Business, applauded Staples’ efforts to better understand the shortfall of women in the financial field.

“Tanya's research on the barriers hindering women's entry and advancement in the financial planning sector uncovers important insights that promise to reshape the industry landscape. By bringing the challenges faced by women financial planners to light, Tanya is not only making an important contribution to the academic community, but also initiating important conversations that will help transform how we think about gender and employment.” 

Staples received a second CNERG grant to develop Canadian data by consulting women in the profession to find out if they face the same barriers as was seen internationally. Grimes said Staples’ investigation points to the incredible impact of CNERG's investment in groundbreaking research.

“As a recent recipient of the Conestoga New and Emerging Research Grant (CNERG), Tanya is also an incredible example of the power of investing directly in new and emerging research here at Conestoga. By providing her with the time and resources necessary to engage in applied research in her field, the CNERG funding stream has helped her imagine and develop a larger research program with amazing transformative potential. I’m excited to see where she goes next with this work.”

In 2022, Conestoga ranked as one of the Top 15 research colleges in Canada by engaging with close to 80 industry and community partners, starting 85 new projects and hiring 190 students.

The Office of Research Services is the central hub for research partnerships among industry and community partners, faculty and students. The office offers comprehensive support throughout the entire research project lifecycle and ensures successful outcomes by bringing together multidisciplinary expertise, state-of-the-art resources and collaboration to tackle real-world challenges and address the needs of industry.