Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The goal of this project is to examine how women fit into the actuarial career path and how cultural expectations, biological factors, and personal aspirations affect their experiences in the field. Dramatic changes in the profession have occurred since its emergence in the nineteenth century to become more welcoming to women who choose to enter the profession. However, despite the equalizing demographic shifts of the field, it is still a male-dominated profession. This paper attempts to analyze why some of the changes in the demographics of the field have occurred as well as explain what factors contribute to women’s underrepresentation as actuarial professionals by referring to previous research regarding gender roles in mathematics, which arguably arise from both biological and sociological sources. To help tie these arguments into the specific field of actuarial mathematics, an independent survey was administered to current and former actuaries that tested their beliefs about the degree to which gender can influence success in the actuarial field, and the results were compared to existing theories about women in mathematics. The survey participants were selected using the names from the online data base ActuarialDirectory.org as well as using a list of Bryant Alums who graduated with a degree in Actuarial Sciences that was provided from Bryant’s Alumni Network. The test results were analyzed using two tail t-tests, and further detail about the testing processes can be found in appendix C.

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