The gender profile of the South African actuarial profession
The aim of this paper is to contextualise the gender status of the South African actuarial profession, both historically and relative to elsewhere in the world, as well as to establish the current level of representation of women in the profession. The authors have investigated the extent to which women are represented in different age groups and at various stages of the qualification process. They find that 85% of Fellow members of the Actuarial Society in 2010 are male but that women represent at least 30% of student members and younger cohorts. Given that people enter the profession primarily from undergraduate degrees in actuarial science, the authors have analysed the relative performance of female students enrolling for an Actuarial Science degree at the University of Cape Town. They find that the proportion of entrants who are female has increased over time but that persistency rates for female students are lower than for male students. They identify the need for further research to establish the underlying reasons for the gender differentials in entrants to university programmes and persistency, and conclude that universities, actuarial employers and the profession have a role to play in improving the perception of the profession and the experiences of women in the classroom and workplace.
Keywords: Actuarial science; exemption rates; gender diversity; persistency