London/New York — Finance is a male-dominated realm. But there is one corner where women are everywhere: the virtual world of digital assistants. Bank of America customers can ask for Erica. In Paris, millennials with their savings at Hello bank! reach out to HelloiZ (pronounced “Eloise”). HSBC Holdings has Amy standing by with advice. In Sweden, SEB’s Aida is waiting to help. Meanwhile, on the trading floor of AllianceBernstein Holding, it is Abbie who assists the bond traders with their deals. For an industry where men outnumber women at least three to one in the upper echelons, the propensity to give virtual assistants female names, personas and in some cases, voices, is coming under greater scrutiny for perpetuating sexist stereotypes. Many executives interviewed by Bloomberg defended their use of female-gendered bots by citing research that shows both men and women prefer female voices to male ones. But this doesn’t exempt companies from the responsibility to proactively combat...

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