Social media spat over sexist ad highlights stereotypes in Czechia

A social media storm over a sexist bank advert highlighted the challenges still facing women in the Czech financial sector.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 08.03.2022 15:03:00 (updated on 08.03.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

International Women’s Day, which falls today, celebrates the achievements of women the world over. It also highlights obstacles still presented by prejudice and stereotype to female achievement, including in the Czech Republic.

One area in which negative attitudes towards women are still in evidence is the financial sector. An advert produced by Česká spořitelna, one of the Czech Republic's biggest banks, has gone viral in recent weeks after the CEO of investment start-up Fondee highlighted the tired stereotype which it seemed to portray.

“Do I look like I understand investing?” asks a caption in front of an image of a woman with a ditzy expression.

Eva Hlavsová founder of investment platform Fondee, who holds two master's degrees in economics and spent six years as a VP at Morgan Stanley, took a mocking photo of herself standing in front of the ad, highlighting the division between the patronizing tone of the image and the fact that an increasing number of women are entering the Czech investment sphere, often achieving great success.

Hlavsová suggested the ad promotes “low self-esteem among women in investing.” “We would like to motivate women to invest more and support them on their investment journey. But how can we do this when we encounter this stereotype in advertising today: woman = does not understand investing?” she asked.

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Hlavsová went on to highlight successful women working in senior investment and financial roles in the Czech Republic. And speaking to Expats.cz, she noted the growing prevalence of women in the Czech investing environment.

“We’re happy that recently, the number of women in investing has grown, and now every third new Fondee investor is a woman,” she said.

Česká spořitelna’s Head of Communications Filip Hrubý defended the bank’s advertising campaign from the allegations of sexism. He countered that the picture was taken out of context, as one of a number of photos of young people, including men, presented as probably ignorant about investing. He suggested the campaign is actually a refutation of the stereotype that young people in general do not understand how to invest.

“Maybe Fondee CEO Eva Hlavsová understands that the campaign is, of course, not about gender at all, but rather about the prejudice that young people in general do not understand investing," he wrote.

The beef escalated, with Hrubý suggesting Fondee’s criticism was a cynical competitive tactic. But by that point, Hlavsová’s post had already racked up hundreds of likes and comments.

Investing in the Czech Republic remains a field largely dominated by men, but it’s been noted that female-owned investment portfolios often outperform those of their male counterparts. A recent study by the University of Warwick in Great Britain suggested that women’s investment portfolios typically outperform male-managed portfolios by 1.8 percent.

Reasons put forward for the success of female investors include their tendency to take a more balanced view of risk, with over 70 percent of female investors refusing to invest in riskier products, compared to less than 60 percent of men. A less competitive attitude is cited as a factor boosting success, by cutting out unnecessary risk.

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