Bloomberg TV’s Stephanie Ruhle laid down the latest word on hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones’ controversial comments on Wall Street’s lack of female traders, and they’re the best we’ve heard yet.
Why? Because Ruhle’s call is a call to action — she wants him to do more than talk about the lack of women trading on Wall Street, she wants him to do something about it.
In case you missed it, a few weeks ago The Washington Post published a video of Jones giving a speech at his alma mater, UVA, and here’s what he said:
“As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it. Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what’s going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience which a man will never share about a connection between that mother and that baby.”
The blogosphere exploded with arguments for why this comment was sexist — because (scientifically) men are just as predisposed to getting attached to kids as women, because (scientifically) women can be better traders… and so forth.
Ruhle, who rose the ranks at Deutsche Bank herself, isn’t even touching that. She acknowledges that, science or gaffe aside, PTJ’s comments are those of an experienced hedge fund manager and likely true. Women leave The Street in droves after they have kids despite every corporate effort to recruit them.
Since leaving DB, I have participated in many conferences and swish events that other financial institutions have held for their women’s groups. Those institutions too have very few senior women in their senior ranks, especially in trading. So where is the disconnect?
Paul Tudor Jones’ remarks were ugly and revealing…The most talented investors are animals solely focused on winning. In reality, no one on Wall Street cares about anything except performance. It isn’t easy for women to navigate their way to the most coveted trading positions, especially with the lack of sponsorship, but when they do it’s all about the numbers. Investing is pure….It shouldn’t matter who delivers it. If that is true, why haven’t more women reached the top? I challenge Mr. Jones to embrace his well-honed problem solving skills and help answer why so many resources are devoted to recruiting and retaining women when they may be destined for the pink ghetto.
In short, she wants PTJ to do something about this issue. Wall Street shouldn’t just be throwing resources at women because it has to, it should be building women up so the industry will rise with them.
As Ruhle pointed out, women are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40% of households and they’re graduating from college in droves, surely there are some awesome female traders out there.
Or not, but they deserve the chance to find out.
So I begrudgingly thank Paul Tudor Jones for raising the very unattractive side of this issue. We don’t like to hear it. Now I must raise an even thornier dilemma. What if he’s right? Is it bias that leads to the current situation or reality? Are there hundreds of women who want to be macro traders that are being held back by the men or the establishment? Or do their skills really vanish the moment they have a child? The thing about Wall Street is that people are very focused on performance. If you can put up the numbers, it shouldn’t matter if you wear a dress or a tie. So let’s test Paul’s hypothesis. Remove the bias and see if mothers can succeed.
Ruhle’s view is the only one we’ve heard that doesn’t simply dismiss Jones’ remarks as sexist without looking at the reality of their implications. He’s not simply wrong, this is a complicated social problem, as Business Insider has argued, and there must be a solution. People’s biases don’t change over night, sometimes they need to be pushed by those that control the institutions we interact with every day.
This wouldn’t be the first time that people have needed to see change in front of them before changing their minds.
So have at it, PTJ.
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