The status of women in the insurance sector: an unfinished conquest

Insurance, a risky business, has been for a long time a male-dominated industry. Throughout time, women have gradually gained terrain ending up nowadays occupying key executive positions in the sector.
women insurance

The case of Inga Beal, CEO of Lloyd’s, a genuine insurance institution, is clear proof of this rise. Women now account for more than 60% of the staff members of the industry in Europe and the United States, a rate which is continuously growing.

Despite the breakthroughs made, the feminization of the insurance business has not touched on all hierarchical levels, with women still lagging behind and underrepresented in terms of executive positions.

The status of women in the US insurance sector

According to the latest overview carried out by the Insurance Information Institute, an establishment attached to the United States Department of Labor, the United States had 1.7 million female employees in the insurance industry in 2016. This figure accounts for 60.7% of the 2.8 million staff members employed in this business.

The percentage of American women in some insurance jobs varies largely, ranging from 46.5% for the sales staff to 85.2% for contract managers.

Women’s share per insurance occupation in 2016

Insurance occupationTotal number of employeesWomen’s share
Salesmen (agents and brokers)
630 00046.5%
Loss adjusters
349 00062.2%
Contract manager
273 00085.2%
104 00062.5%
14 000NA*
NA : not available Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

Women account for 56%(2) of the entire American wage earners, including all classes of business. With a rate of 60.7%, the American insurance sector is well more feminized than the national mean value.

The status of women in the French insurance sector

According to the observatory for the evolution of insurance jobs(3), an association set up by the insurance French federation (FFA), the percentage of women in the insurance industry amounted to 60.1% in 2016, a level identical to that of 2015.
This rate, which was 58% in 2006, has now witnessed a 3.6% increase in ten years’ time.

The ratio of women in the overall staff members of the insurance business: 2006-2016

women insurance

Source :

In France as well as in the United States and in the majority of developed countries, women are well-represented in the financial sector and in the insurance industry.

Ratio of women in the executive category of the insurance industry

Women account for 49.5% of the executive staff. The parity index (ratio of women among executives by the ratio of women in overall staff members) has been set at 0.82. This index is below value 1, synonymous of parity.

While women's ratio in the overall insurance staff members has remained unchanged since 2015, their presence among executive staff has been on a steady increase.
Between 2006 and 2016, the ratio of women within the various executive categories evolved as follows:

Insurance executives category20062016
First level of management
Intermediary level of management
High level of management
Top management

The status of women in the Tunisian insurance sector

Made up of 22 insurance and reinsurance companies, the Tunisian market is highly feminized. Many women have managed to climb the various career ladders echelons to reach the highest hierarchical levels. Five women hold positions as chief executive officers and general managers. Tunis Re, Assurance SALIM, Assurances BIAT, Carte vie, COTUNACE are managed by women, which represents a female leadership proportion of 22.7%.

The general managers of reinsurance regional outlets, Continental Re, Waica Re and Sen Re are to be added to this list. In Tunisia, women are also very present at the top of brokerage firms.

Wage gaps between men and women in the insurance industry

Gender-based wage disparity is another issue. By and large, insurance and financial services showcase the biggest salary gaps between men and women in comparison with the other economic sectors.

In the United States, gender-based wage disparity for equal positions was of 6.4% in 2016 in the financial sector. This gap amounts to 7.2% in insurance, that is, the highest percentage of all other sectors.

According to another estimate of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women working full time in the United States in 1951 would get 64% of each dollar earned by men. Women in the insurance industry are currently getting only 62% of each dollar earned by men, a rate below that of 1951.

Women’s access to executive positions in the insurance industry

In the insurance field, women’s participation in executive committees amounted to 14% in 2016, a percentage below the mean value of the financial sector which is of 16%. This index grew by 40% between 2003 and 2016.

Evolution of women's participation in the executive committees of insurance companies : 2003-2016

insurance women

Source : Oliver Wyman- Marsh & Mc Lennan Companies

Women, an opportunity for the insurance business

Women, whether employees, executives, leaders or simple customers, represent a wealth of opportunities for the insurance industry.
According to some estimates, the insurance markets of the following ten emerging countries, Brazil, China, Columbia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Thailand and Turkey, are poised to generate up to 1.7 billion USD in additional premiums by 2030 thanks to women.

Despite persistent gender-based wage disparity, women have seen their income increase more than ever. Women’s revenues, including all activities, evaluated at 9 800 billion USD in 2007, amounted to 15 600 billion USD in 2017. The progression of women’s revenues is higher than that of men.

Women entrepreneurs also stand for a market in full swing. The afore-mentioned emerging markets comprise approximately 8 to 10 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with at least one female proprietorship. It is also noteworthy that the number of higher education female graduates has been on a steady rise.

The improvement of women’s socio-economic situation has triggered growing need for protection, which resulted in premium opportunities for insurers.
Unfortunately, developing countries have largely overlooked women as consumers. By effectively targeting this social category, insurers may increase their revenues and ensure sustainable development.

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