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August 07, 2006

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And then civilization would collapse :-). Seriously, I don't think demotivating half the workforce would be such a great idea. Anyway, the attraction to wealthy and/or powerful men seems hardwired enough that this makes as much sense as solving the 'woman shortage' by having men drop their preference for youth all at once. An interesting thought experiment anyway.

Let's pretend for a moment that women aren't sexually attracted to men who obviously have money, simply because of their money. Women would still be attracted to men with money, because their financial resources improve their chances of being suitable partners who can materially support their families. It's a basic survival issue. It's *not* just about Porsches and Prada, it's about prescriptions and piano lessons and all the other little everyday things that cost money. A lot of little things add up to a whole lotta cash (and women instinctively know this), which makes men with money better candidates for women... for very practical, survival reasons.

From where I'm sitting, the problem isn't all about men in the finance business refusing to change the rules to help women. It's also about women not making the effort to make their own rules, run their own firms, and make a stand in the financial world on their own terms. You might say it's unlikely or impossible, but if there are so many talented, intelligent and driven women in the world, why *shouldn't* it be possible? Certainly, women could start their own financial services firms, and run things the way they want them to be. It defies logic to assert the contrary. As long as women continue to live according to men's rules, they (we) will continue to be disadvantaged, by our own hand.

Some Wall Street firms have long had a high-testosterone, ultra-competitive atmosphere that isn't particularly welcoming to women (or, for that matter, non-Alpha men).

"You might say it's unlikely or impossible, but if there are so many talented, intelligent and driven women in the world, why *shouldn't* it be possible? Certainly, women could start their own financial services firms, and run things the way they want them to be. It defies logic to assert the contrary. As long as women continue to live according to men's rules, they (we) will continue to be disadvantaged, by our own hand."

This is sort of like saying black people should form their own investment banks--the preexisting banks have snapped up access to most of the capital.

While I, as a non-alpha man, would like to see a kindler, gentler workplace, it's not going to happen for a number of reasons:

a) Most women don't want to leave their kids for long periods of time, and every woman has to carry the baby during pregnancy--there is no way around this. Furthermore, females are only fertile during their prime working years, which makes things very hard on ambitious women indeed.

b) The aggressive alpha behaviors are conducive to success. It is hard to defeat an opponent who will do _whatever it takes_ to get the deal.

c) As mentioned above, the existing banks have the subsidy of history--they were there first and got all the contracts, so they have inertia on their side. Money tends to follow an inverse concentration gradient--unlike heat or osmotic pressure, it goes from areas of less to more concentration.

Half sigma:

I don't agree with the bit about the Wall Street being labor cartel. Quite the opposite, it's hyper competitive and almost insanely performance driven. There are plenty of successful people on Wall Street who have no graduate degree or professional credentials, no MBA, no top-tier undergrad degree. Could you say the same of the medical or legal professions?

The reason Wall Street doesn't open it's doors to women or men or in fact anyone is because proven experience is so valuable. When a large amount of value is staked on the performance of a single person, it just doesn't make sense to cut corners. Even graduates from elite business schools have to slave away countless hours just to get the chance to gain the sort experience that translates into dollars down the road. The hallmark of a labor cartel is a LEGAL barrier to entry. How exactly would a long hours cartel work? I suppose at the secret Wall Street labor union meeting everyone just agrees to work long hours. It's often been said that investment banking is an apprentice profession. This is a barrier to entry, but only because firms have no interest in investing money on unproven talent that is free to leave. To drive down salaries, an investment bank could offer very heavy golden handcuffs, but it would be tough to offer associates with 1 or 2 years of experience enough to stay put.

I think you have a point in a certain sense, but it has nothing to do with a cartel. On team efforts where it's hard to measure the performance of individual members is hard for upper management to guage individual productivity, a late hour headcheck roll call can serve as a proxy performance measure. People who may be very productive then get overlooked and the midnight oil burners get promoted, creating a self-reinforcing cycle.

1. "It also seems clear that women, on average, don't have the same desire as men to do whatever it takes in order to be financially successful."

HS, when it comes to *men* and success, you seem willing to entertain myriad theories as to circumstances beyond their control, particularly social ones. It's puzzling that you don't extend this same open-mindedness toward women. You would never say that *men* fail to make it to the top simply because because they don't put in the hours or have the right attitude, would you?

As I've said before, women in competitive corporate professions are usually screwed whether they have children or not (aside from a few very well-connected women and the occasional token). Might as well have kids, right? Child-rearing is often a convenient way for rule-obeying, positive-minded, conservative women to save face when they leave businesses in which they had no future anyway, that only wanted them there as young, entry-level employees. The kind of conservate women who go into finance generally don't want say that because they'll be branded as losers making excuses.

2. "...men don't care if women are successful, so women don't have the same motivation to be successful."

New York sounds like its own little world with its own economy and rules, where everyone makes at least six figures and that's not considered much. My extensive experience and observation tells me the above is untrue in general society. Yes, *successful* men mostly don't care if a woman is equally financially successful. They don't have to, and can afford to trade for youth and looks. But, the less money a guy makes, the more he does care about the financial resources a woman brings to the relationship.

You must have seen a poor, weak guy dating a fat/ugly chick, usually really demanding, with more money, at some time. (Maybe law school?) Otherwise, maybe you've never been in a system where lots of people genuinely end up unsuccessful -- by "unsuccessful," I don't mean a mere six figures and Manhattan apartment. ;)

3. "Women could easily erase most of the gender income gap by deciding, en masse, to give their sexual favors to men who earn less money. Then men would no longer put so much effort into trying to make money."

En masse? I've seen movies where that happens ... usually to a prison guard or pizza delivery boy.

But believe it or not, I've been told many of the people who work to accumulate power and money aren't doing so to get laid. A stampede upon the easygoing men would only further disable them from competing with "alpha males" for control of the system.

"There are plenty of successful people on Wall Street who have no graduate degree or professional credentials, no MBA, no top-tier undergrad degree."

Really? I'd like to hear more about this -- like, what type of jobs these people have, what "successful" means (beyond entry-level, I hope), how they get hired, if they're merely substituting connections for credentials, or if there's really some innate talent that leads to success on Wall Street. This doesn't jive with the little I know, but all I know is what I read and what a few friends have told me.

The poster sounds like she's really from Wall Street. Usually, any stories or theories re women and corporate success come from well-meaning reporters or academics who don't know their elbow from their armpit when it comes to the business world.

You don't need a prestigious degree to be a stockbroker. But then stockbrokers don't have much prestige.

On the other hand, to do investment banking, buy side or sell side analyst, money management, etc, you need the Ivy degrees.

My experience is that investment banking is the kind of business where one really smart guy working 80 hours per week beats four fairly smart guys working 40 hours per week.

"There are plenty of successful people on Wall Street who have no graduate degree or professional credentials, no MBA, no top-tier undergrad degree."

I was just reading this morning about one of the most prominent hedge fund managers in the UK (and all of Europe). He has a high school degree and nothing more.

There's no doubt that elite credentials help you get in the door but those credentials don't help you not get fired. Mercy knows what she's talking about and Half Sigma simply doesn't.

"There's no doubt that elite credentials help you get in the door but those credentials don't help you not get fired. Mercy knows what she's talking about and Half Sigma simply doesn't."

Do they necessarily contradict each other? I.E., you won't get in the door without a Harvard degree but that won't save you from being booted. One of the reasons the upper middle classes think they deserve their spoils is because they really do work hard for them. The catch is that members of lower classes aren't even given that chance.

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