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CHICAGO _ For decades, banking has been one of those areas where women do most of the work while men run the show.
That's changing, but the ratios remain skewed.
Women now comprise about 67 percent of the workforce at commercial banks, and 69 percent of laborers at savings institutions in the United States, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Yet women represent only 13 percent of the top executives at the country's largest 50 publicly held banks, according to a 1999 study by the Financial Women International Foundation in Arlington, Va.
"It's an old boys' club," said Judi Marden, director of the foundation, which is part of an association founded in 1921 by women who were incensed that they were not allowed to join the American Bankers Association.
Things have improved, Marden said, but women bankers still are not getting the choicest jobs, even when they make it into top management.
The study, along with anecdotal evidence from small banks, showed that women are in "velvet cushion jobs," areas whose average salaries _ even for men _ tend to erode with the influx of women. Two common examples are human resources and marketing, Marden said.
Because there are so few women in the upper ranks of banking, they stand out in their companies' annual reports, at high-powered meetings and at bankers' golf outings.
The stories they tell are similar. Top women bankers were often among the first management trainees when they entered banking in the `60s or `70s. These women recognize that they are a rare group but remain focused more on their jobs than their gender. …