Gender discrimination and career advancement of women in the Nigerian banking industry

Ajede, Salamat Atinuke (Ph.D) & Prof Ifeanyi Onyeonoru


The persistence of gender discrimination in organizations and lack of females in executive level positions of banks in Nigeria is the context for this study. The study examined the effect of gender discrimination on women’s career advancement opportunities in the Nigerian banking industry. The study combined the glass ceiling theory, labour market segmentation and Sylvia Walby’s theory of patriarchy in the interpretation of the results. Primary data were obtained through the administration of questionnaires on 322 employees in 12 banks within Ijebu-Ode and Abeokuta, and the conduct of 22 in-depth interviews at the head offices. There were 50.9% males compared to 49.1% females, while educational qualifications ranged from 76.4% with first degrees, 17.7% had post graduate/PhD degrees. The greatest challenges to women career advancement are family responsibilities and commitment mostly tied to their roles as caregivers (44.4%) and not as a result of gender discriminations. Although cases of gender discriminations still exist (30.6%), it has significantly reduced particularly for the newer generation banks. Banks now have lesser cases of the problem of gender discriminations unlike in the past. This tendency is likely to have the potential of increasing opportunities for career advancement of women. More women are now at the management level of banks. Although very few of them can be seen on bank boards in spite of their increasing number in upper management. For women to achieve their full potentials, company and national policies need to recognize and support gender equality especially in board appointments and the total elimination of gender discriminations in the workplace.

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