Women in Finance: Are we Actually Going Backwards?

Whilst we may think progress is being made for professional women in banking, some of the statistics in this article in Bloomberg are quite shocking. It seems, according to many of the women quoted, that not only are we still struggling against discrimination for senior posts, the trading floors are a ‘hostile environment’ where women are still routinely subjected to crude jokes and excluded from ‘boys’ outings. As Susan Estrich, a professor of gender-discrimination law at UCLA says “In the old days, the problem was conscious, explicit discrimination — the doors were literally closed and we had to put our heads against them and pound them in, discrimination today is largely unconscious, and people in power don’t even realize they’re doing it.” It appears that this is still a testosterone and risk fueled world. John Coates, a senior research fellow at Cambridge University studied traders in London and found that men with higher levels of testosterone earned more money. He found that women were better at brokerage and asset management which required more analysis, whereas only 2 to 3 percent of traders, where quick and risky decisions are required, were women. Senior women are still finding they walk a tightrope between being too feminine, and not taken seriously, trying to be one of the boys and being labelled as a ‘bitch’. If you have worked in this area I would love to hear of your experiences either good or bad.

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