In the 1970s, Irene Dorner was sure that with the surge of women joining her in the working world, the financial industry would start looking pretty equal before long. It didn't seem so far fetched to Dorner, now the CEO of HSBC USA, to expect that by the time she was 40, "the ratio would be 50/50 in all the places that mattered."

It hasn’t happened. While we are no longer in the openly discriminatory era of "Mad Men," when only white males had a serious chance at advancement, the world of banking and finance, like all the well-paying professions, still has what social scientists call a "leaky pipeline." Women enter the lower rungs at roughly the same numbers as (or even in higher numbers than) men, but their ranks thin out the higher you go in terms of pay or position, until women are vastly outnumbered at the top.

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