ON FEMALES IN FINANCE – A Student’s Perspective


Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay.

After sitting down with Karissa Ho ‘21, who is the leader of the Females in Finance Club at Mayfield, it is safe to say that she is well-versed in the intricacies of finance.

“It is critical that we start emphasizing financial literacy education, which will make us as prepared as possible to take charge of our own futures,” said Ho. In addition to serving as the ASB Treasurer on Student Council, Ho’s reasoning for starting the club includes a passion for cultivating understanding, especially in a community that lacked a forum for similar dialogue. Ho has been “investing on her own on Robinhood for about four years, and the process of exploring and learning about investing made her want to bring that knowledge and power to Mayfield peers.

The continuity of women’s financial illiteracy historically has further catalyzed her interest in organizations that focus on uplifting women in the finance sector. Citing a statistic from the Wall Street Journal’s Women’s Other Economic Gap: Financial Acumen, Ho highlighted that a “recent survey conducted by UBS found that only 23% of women globally take charge of long-term financial-planning decisions” (WSJ). Even more so, women typically carry greater student debt for higher education, and are cut off from parental financial support earlier than their male counterparts. Thus, according to Ho, young women require the necessary education in preparation for the greater world – an expectation which drives Ho’s mission to provide information for Mayfield juniors and seniors. 

In Females and Finance itself, Karissa Ho has held multiple events over Zoom with guest speakers. With the interruption of COVID-19, and the subsequent obstacles toward meetings in person, Ho has made a valiant effort in holding weekly Tuesday meetings with her club. FIF has covered topics such as budgeting, resume-building, and entrepreneurship. For budgeting meetings, the club has researched salaries based on career interests, apartment-hunted, and filled out a mock-budget complete with entry-level job taxes to see what future finances might look like. Karissa has also worked closely with her club advisor, Melissa Tighe, for the club’s resume-building workshop. 

“It has been so great having someone point me in the right direction, while also giving me room to implement my creative ideas into the club curriculum,” Ho said of her advisor, Mrs. Tighe. For the entrepreneurship meeting, Ho invited a Mayfield and Yale alum, Camille Arboles, to talk about finding the balance between her passions and current world needs to create her fitness and wellness-based small business, the Mind Body Spirit Collective. 

Though, she has not wanted to limit her impact to the Mayfield community alone. Recently, FIF spearheaded a collaborative meeting with Loyola High School’s Investment Club. Ho seeks to further expand the club’s outreach. At the end of December, she invited John Snider — a father of a Mayfield alum and a current member of the Mayfield board– to talk and answer questions about his experience as an investment professional. And, very successfully, the club recorded 60 Loyola and Mayfield students in attendance. 

A recent January meeting brought in guest speaker, Yunah Lee, who is the CFO of GOAT – a luxury sneaker and streetwear e-commerce platform. After interning with GOAT this summer, Karissa wanted the FIF members to hear Lee’s experience as a woman in a male-dominated industry, as well as how she discovered and pursued interests in finance. 

In upcoming months, Ho plans to organize meetings with guest speakers that can attest to their individual stories and experiences. Although the date has not been set yet, Ho is organizing a seminar led by financial advisor and professor, Dr. Moore Taylor (who was recently featured in the Forbes 30 under 30). For the senior class specifically, Karissa wanted to provide information on the basics of financial management for rising college students.

“I want this event to set the tone for how we go into adulthood – with clarity and confidence in our finances,” said Ho. “While this pandemic disrupted some earlier plans I had for in-person seminars and assemblies at Mayfield, I’ve actually been able to work with high-level people that I may not have if we were holding those events in person,” Ho reflected on turning a discouraging, disappointing situation into an advantageous opportunity. 

“I’m thankful to have grown in my leadership through being head of FiF because spreading FiF’s message of financial literacy through the Mayfield community and beyond is something I’d never trade away,” said Ho.

Ho has done fantastic work in bringing financial information closer to Mayfield upper-classmen, especially for seniors who will be attending college next year.