Goldman Sachs VP’s personal quest to bring women into STEM

Tina Saffarian is vice president of the London office of Goldman Sachs and she is on a mission. Nearly six years into her career in Goldman’s global markets division, where she works on e-commerce products, Saffarian has launched her own nonprofit to educate female students about the benefits of careers in STEM.

A graduate in information management from University College London (UCL), Saffarian has long participated in campus events as a Goldman representative. But she says it has long been clear that the women attending are a minority. “I noticed that every time I went to speak to the students, there weren’t many women present – it was mostly men,” says Saffarian. “I thought it would really help to have an organization that introduces female STEM students to women from all industries, not just tech. I wanted to help as many students as possible.

Called WInsightful, Saffarian’s company aims to provide women studying STEM subjects with information based on “real-life scenarios” of careers in key industries. “We are open to female STEM students at all levels. There may be undergraduates who want to know how to apply for certain roles, or doctoral students who might be more interested in combining careers with children. The idea is to get women from sectors like banking, consulting, private equity, technology or start-ups talking about their roles and reaching as many young women as possible,” she says.

Saffarian herself joined Goldman after completing a summer analyst program (internship), then joined full-time after graduation. She says she didn’t really know about banking careers until her roommates started discussing the industry. “I got into banking through my college roommates, who were extremely motivated and one of whom had done a spring internship at a major bank. She offered me information about the application process and without her, I would not have applied.

Saffarian suggests that women are deterred from applying for the wide range of tech roles in banking, both by a lack of awareness of the opportunities available and by the perception that they are predominantly filled by men. However, she says that’s a misconception: “I was unaware of the different technology roles within investment banks. These roles were mostly represented by men at job fairs, and my interviewers were all men, but it’s becoming more and more common to find women representing purely software engineering roles, which is fantastic.

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