Women’s Finance Association cultivates leadership in the finance industry 

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Left to right (starting from the top): Yiming Qian (Faculty Advisor), Rita Tonleu (Chief Diversity Officer), Kate Desautels (Vice President), Lauren Hipplewitz (Chief Financial Officer), Chloe Jihae Son (President), Andreanna Crawford (VP of Programming). The organization has 70 prospective members, and it hopes to continue to grow and reach all women in finance at UConn. The focus is on intensive programming geared towards women in finance.   Images courtesy of Chloe Son

Left to right (starting from the top): Yiming Qian (Faculty Advisor), Rita Tonleu (Chief Diversity Officer), Kate Desautels (Vice President), Lauren Hipplewitz (Chief Financial Officer), Chloe Jihae Son (President), Andreanna Crawford (VP of Programming). The organization has 70 prospective members, and it hopes to continue to grow and reach all women in finance at UConn. The focus is on intensive programming geared towards women in finance. Images courtesy of Chloe Son

While there are many business organizations for women and specialized societies at UConn, there aren’t any that are specifically geared toward women in finance, according to Chloe Son, a sixth-semester finance major and founder of the Women’s Finance Association (WFA). 

WFA is focused on its intensive programming, which is centered around “specialized learning and development.” WFA will have an educational curriculum which will not only help equip members with a wide range of skills, resources and networks, but also provide members with opportunities to apply their knowledge to real-world experiences. 

Son said she founded WFA because she has often been one of few women, and even fewer women of color, involved in financial experiences or programs at UConn which predominantly consist of male students. She believes that women in finance have an unmatched potential to excel in the field but have been historically limited in doing so due to sociological factors.  

But the field is changing, according to Son.  

“Diversity initiatives are at the forefront of corporate recruiting strategies and mission statements,” Son said. “My intern class at Morgan Stanley was over 50% female, and approximately 25% [minorities]. Finance at UConn is lagging in that respect, and I felt compelled to push it forward. Candidly speaking, I feel personally connected to the [origin] of WFA. As a woman in finance, and as a woman of color in finance, I have a deep and experiential understanding of the distinct and intersectional barriers that exist in the financial industry.” 

Son understands that it isn’t easy navigating a male-dominated industry, but she believes in tackling this issue head-on. She hopes that with the establishment of WFA, more women in finance will join her in this venture. 

Son came to UConn in the ACES program, but later in her freshman year decided to pursue finance because of the “fast-paced and intense nature of the industry.” 

“My goal for WFA is to create an inclusive and empowering environment that adds pertinent value to women in finance,” Son said. “My objective is to transform the scope of Finance at UConn by bolstering female engagement and cultivating strong leadership. Not to mention, I’m especially focused on engaging more women of color in this field.” 

WFA’s general meetings will consist of three different elements: The first element incorporates workshop series that will be focused around teaching members about “financial concepts, technical skills, recruitment/interview processes and related concepts;” The second element is a speaker series that will introduce members to “industry professionals, alumni, students and other organizations to provide color into the distinct segments of finance;” The third and final element is the current events forum which will consist of collaborative presentations from the executive board and members. Son said that these “will be a professional, discussion-based forum where members have the opportunity to develop and share deeper insights.”  

WFA also plans on providing larger hands-on learning opportunities for its members such as stock pitch competitions, case competitions and investment simulations. 

Son mentioned the faculty advisor for WFA is professor Yiming Qian, who is renowned for her research in various subjects in corporate finance, such as initial public offerings (IPOs), behavioral finance and emerging markets. Qian also holds the position of Toscano Family Chair in Finance.

“Under her leadership, coupled with the WFA executive board, we’re in a phenomenal position to add value and to impact women in finance,” Son said. 

The organization has 70 prospective members, and it hopes to continue to grow and reach all women in finance at UConn. Son said she plans to continue recruiting members this semester through collaborations with existing organizations, informational meetings and coffee chats.  

Anyone who is interested in joining can email WFA at uconnWFA@gmail.com or by following their Instagram

Thumbnail image courtesy of Chloe Son.


Brandon Barzola is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.barzola@uconn.edu

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