Re:Gender works to end gender inequity and discrimination against girls and women by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action. Working with multiple sectors and disciplines, we are shaping a world that demands fairness across difference.
The results of Financial News’ recent Women in Finance Survey bear out a similar view: 82% of hedge fund respondents said their gender has affected their likelihood of having a successful career, substantially higher than the 66% of total respondents who felt the same way. So why do women in hedge funds feel their gender makes it harder to succeed?
Most women in the hedge fund industry do not work in portfolio management positions, which create the performance upon which the hedge fund industry is built. Only 12% of the 10,000 members of 100 Women in Hedge Funds work in trading and portfolio management and the largest proportion, 26%, are in marketing roles.
Rachel Stewart, a consultant at global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson, said: “Among some of the experienced women, the feeling is that women coming into the industry now should be led towards more roles than marketing, operations and HR. It’s more difficult to get a seat as a partner or director if you don’t have a background of P&L responsibility, as this is the bread and butter of the hedge fund industry.”
Researchers from the universities of Leicester and Essex looked into the concept of "adulting," which is defined as the attempt by people to be seen as mature and responsible, professionally and socially, and, when looking at a London hedge fund, found that women faced problems at every stage of adult life – from getting started in the company to keeping credibility among colleagues after giving birth.
By contrast, young male staff were given more opportunities to settle into corporate life, and suffered fewer dilemmas in juggling work and parenthood, found Jo Brewis, Professor of Organisation and Consumption at the University of Leicester School of Management, and Dr Kat Riach, Senior Lecturer in Management at Essex Business School at the University of Essex.
"Our in-depth research into life for male and female workers at a busy hedge fund showed women are never the right age in organisational terms," said Professor Brewis, who has borrowed the phrase 'never the right age' from fellow management experts Professor Wendy Loretto and Dr Colin Duncan from the University of Edinburgh Business School, who originally coined it. Professor Brewis and Dr Riach gathered evidence in late 2010 through 53 interviews with men and women at the fund aged between 25 and 37, and 150 hours of observation.
They found that women's problems began when they entered the company. Unlike their male colleagues they were given little or no informal guidance and training as new members of a team.
As it has done at least once a decade for the past 40 years, the media seems intent on pitting women against each other in a "Having it All" debate about work inside and outside the home. Author and organizer Ellen Bravo explains why the discussion defies reality.
When Anne Marie Slaughter wrote her article for Atlantic magazine on “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” describing her decision to leave a top job for Hilary Clinton at the State Department, she acknowledged that she’s talking about a small sliver of elite women. “Millions of other working women face much more difficult life circumstances,” Slaughter noted.
But neither Atlantic, nor the New York Times, nor any of the other major media outlets that has run or commented on Slaughter’s article, spotlight these working mothers—the majority, in fact—who are struggling with daily hardships because our country does not provide basic policies that help value families in the workplace.
These women are not thinking about “having it all,” they’re worried about losing it all—their jobs, their children’s health, their families’ financial stability—because of the regular conflicts that arise between being a good employee and a responsible parent.
The debate over this proposed legislation reveals serious flaws in reasoning about the impact of public efforts to promote fair pay. Recent academic research suggests that many women are underpaid for the same reason that many chief executives may be overpaid — because the labor market doesn’t work according to the standard textbook model based on impersonal forces of supply and demand.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would have required employers to give a “business” reason for paying men and women different wages for equal work. It would also have prohibited retaliation against employees who revealed wage information.
Criticisms of the proposed legislation took several forms. A common claim was that it would do more harm than good, because pay discrimination is not the most important cause of gender disparities. Conservatives are not the only ones who insist that women are paid less primarily because they choose to devote more time to family responsibilities than men do. The New York Times columnist Eduardo Porter recently articulated a similar argument.
But pay discrimination and choices to take time out of paid employment are complementary rather than competing explanations of gender differences in pay. Women who are paid less — or who anticipate fewer opportunities for promotion — than their male counterparts are more likely to drop out of paid employment. Their choices represent, in part, a response to discrimination.
If a woman does drop out for a while, an employer who pays her less is off the hook. Case law shows that a lower level of experience on the job is typically considered a bona fide “business” reason for paying someone less. In herdiscerning analysis of the impact of the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, a University of Maryland law professor, Deborah Thompson Eisenberg, points out that the Paycheck Fairness Act would have simply codified majority interpretations of that law.
A new working paper by Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland for the Peterson Institute for International Economics suggests that Kim Jong-un's early economic policy moves in the economic sphere “were focused on re-enforcing controls.”
Most surprising of all this, writes my colleague Jane Perlez, is “how Mr. Kim has thumbed his nose at China, whose economic largess keeps the government afloat.” When a senior Chinese diplomat went to North Korea and warned Mr. Kim against a ballistic missile test, Jane says, “the new leader went ahead anyway.”
Mr. Kim, not yet 30, seems to have deftly consolidated his hold on state power since his father’s death in December. He appears fully in command of the political, military and diplomatic levers.
And some of his regime’s first policy moves in the economic sphere “were focused on re-enforcing controls” from the central government, according to a new paper by Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland for the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
They suggest that the regime could impose a return to a more centrally planned economy, as we have seen before. Such a trend, which might well include a crackdown on the private, shadow-economy markets that are predominantly run by women, “could have the effect of once again marginalizing North Korea’s women.”
Mr. Haggard and Mr. Noland report that disproportionate numbers of women are now being laid off from jobs at North Korea’s state-owned enterprises because “working for the state is considered more politically advanced ‘man’s work.’ ”
As a result, women have moved into the markets, which are closed to men and operate quasi-legally in North Korea’s grudgingly hybrid economy. The regime views these markets — and the women who run them — with “an ambivalent if not actively hostile posture,” Mr. Haggard and Mr. Noland write.
“In other settings, this newfound freedom might be empowering,” they say, but the women traders have frequent run-ins with the police and, therefore, the North’s harsh penal system. Corruption is rife. Bribing police officers and state officials is common. “In short, the increasingly male-dominated state preys on the increasingly female-dominated market.”
A provision in the 2010 health care law requiring contraceptive coverage for women without copays has gotten most of the press.
But much more is at stake for women if the Supreme Court overturns the health care law. Starting in 2014, the law bars insurance practices such as charging women higher premiums than men, or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions that could include pregnancy, a Caesarean-section birth or a sexual or a domestic violence assault.
Parenthood is not the end of the road for teen moms. Quite to the contrary, motherhood can serve as an educational motivator for many young women. Unfortunately, educational barriers and discrimination often thwart this drive and determination. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the landmark law that bans sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. Despite Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination, there are schools across the country that continue to bar pregnant and parenting students from activities, kick them out of school, pressure them to attend alternative programs, and penalize them for pregnancy-related absences.
Last year, in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, a deeply divided Supreme Court voted 5-4 to erect significant barriers to employees’ rights to bring class actions under our nation’s nondiscrimination laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act of 2012 (EEORA) will remove the obstacles the Supreme Court placed in the way of ordinary Americans seeking their day in court and provide a clear avenue for employees subject to company-wide discrimination to come together to seek redress. This fact sheet discusses the EEORA and it's impact on women workers.
If, as many maintain, women could have such a tonic influence on the markets, why are there so few women traders? Why are women not pushing their way onto the trading floors, and why are banks and hedge funds not waving them in? Women make up at most 5 percent of the traders in the financial world, and even that low number includes the results of diversity pushes at many of the large banks. The most common explanations ventured for these numbers are that women do not want to work in such a macho environment, or that they are too risk averse for the job.
There may well be a kernel of truth to these explanations, but I do not place much stock in them. To begin with, women may not like the atmosphere on a trading floor, but I am sure they like the money. There are few jobs that pay more than a trader in the financial world. Besides, women are already on the trading floor: they make up about 50 percent of the sales force, and the sales force sits right next to the trading desks. So women are already immersed in the macho environment and are dealing with the high jinks; they are just not trading. Also, I am not convinced women are as easily put off by a male environment as this explanation assumes.
There are plenty of worlds once dominated by men that have come to employ more women: law and medicine, for example, were once considered male preserves but now have a more even balance between men and women (although admittedly not at the top echelons of management). So I am not convinced by the macho environment argument.
What about the second-mentioned explanation, that men and women differ in their appetite for risk? There have been some studies conducted in behavioral finance that suggest that on computerized monetary choice tasks women are more risk averse than men. But here again, I am not entirely convinced, because other studies, of real investment behavior, show that women often outperform men over the long haul, and such outperformance is, according to formal finance theory, a sign of greater risk taking. In an important paper called “Boys Will Be Boys,” two economists at the University of California, Brad Barber and Terrance Odean, analyzed the brokerage records of 35,000 personal investors over the period 1991–1997 and found that single women outperformed single men by 1.44 percent. A similar result was announced in 2009 by Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research, which found that over the previous nine years hedge funds run by women had significantly outperformed those run by men.