Their participation in higher positions of banks is 9% at present while it is 15% and 16% in mid- and entry-level posts respectively.
Women's participation in important tasks, such as policy formulation and supervision, in the financial sector is gradually increasing but their participation is still much lower than men.
Data of the Bangladesh Bank show from 2016 to 2020, female participation increased by a little more than 1% in six steps – from assistant director to executive director – of the central bank.
In these five years, the number of female officers rose from 126 to 855, and that of male officers from 238 to 3,322.
Assistant director is the first position in the hierarchy at the central bank. Last year, the number of men and women working in this position was 969, including 219 women and 750 men.
On the other hand, there are five women and 25 men among executive directors, the highest position in the hierarchy.
Deputy governor of the central bank is a contractual appointment given by the finance ministry. To date, only one woman has held the post. Nazneen Sultana, the country's first female deputy governor, was relieved in 2016 over the central bank reserve heist.
Husne Ara Shikha, general manager at the Bangladesh Bank, said the number of female officers at the central bank was negligible when she joined.
She said maternity leave was less available at the time and women had less opportunities to attend important meetings.
But the situation has changed now, she said.
"Maternity leave has increased and daycares have been established. Like male officers, females are also getting all kinds of facilities. The environment is completely women-friendly now. Still, I think women have to prove their worth a little more than men."
Naima Nazneen Rikta, joint director at the central bank, told The Business Standard the Bangladesh Bank is a very women-friendly organisation and there is no gender discrimination.
She said the central bank could be the example of a women-friendly organisation for other government agencies.
Md Serajul Islam, spokesperson and executive director of the Bangladesh Bank, told The Business Standard employees at the central bank are recruited as per the government job rules.
"If there are more women on the merit list, their number will increase further."
A report of the Bangladesh Bank titled "Gender Equality Report of Banks & FIs (July-December 2020) was released on Sunday. It said of the 183,206 bankers in the country last year, 154,828 were men and 28,378 were women.
Although the number of male bankers increased compared to 2019, that of female bankers fell by 102.
The number of female employees in government and foreign banks decreased in 2020 compared to the year before but increased in specialised and private banks.
Foreign banks saw the largest decline in the number of female bankers. Last year, the number of female employees in these banks decreased by 146 to reach 948. Meanwhile, the number of female employees in government banks fell by 128 to reach 7,639.
Syed Mahbubur Rahman, former president of the Association of Bankers Bangladesh and managing director of Mutual Trust Bank, sees no reason other than retirements behind the fall in the number of female employees in government banks, but why this number decreased in foreign banks is not clear to him.
He thinks cost minimisation due to Covid-19 may have led to layoffs or resignations. He also thinks a foreign bank withdrawing its operations from Bangladesh could be another reason.According to the central bank report, the participation of women as board members in banks stood at 12% last year. Of them, 17% were female directors in foreign banks, which was the highest.
The participation of women in higher positions of banks is 9% at present while it is 15% and 16% in mid- and entry-level posts respectively. The picture is almost the same in non-bank financial institutions.