Thank you Paul Tudor Jones

Thank you Paul Tudor Jones.  You couldn’t have brought the issue to light more clearly and succinctly.   As the UVA student highlighted in his question to the panel, we have a big elephant in the room.  There are almost no senior women in finance.  And, it is even more dire in the one area that research tells us time and again that women would perform better which is trading.

Sadly, trading is a vastly misunderstood role where often the media and many traders themselves focus on the vast rewards rather than the risks.  Separating the rewards from the risks is where the danger occurs.  A better word for trading is risk management.  You take risks in order to make rewards but you must manage the risk in order to still have a reward.

Research says that women are experts at managing risk. (See Linkedin Post by Susan Shaffer Solovay and Jacki Zehner for several research links)  And more interestingly, in contrast to the statements by Mr Tudor Jones about women being overly emotional, the fact is that women are not subject to the testosterone drivers that often cause their male counterparts to blow up both emotionally and financially.

Unfortunately, most of this research can be probably be called anecdotal and even speculative because the sample size of women in trading roles is woefully small.  One of the few roles which is highly meritocratic is also one of the areas where we aren’t getting enough women in the starting gate.

Thankfully we now know one of the reasons why.  There are too many men who have the same unconscious bias (and in some cases conscious) as Mr Tudor Jones. These are the men who get off the plane when there is a female pilot and complain about female drivers on the road.  These are the men who must have missed the fact that female drivers pay less for car insurance.  And for those that get off the plane, they should be grounded for their wacky view of the world.

As for the “laser focus” required of a trader, has Mr Tudor Jones ever tried to write an email with 3 screaming kids running around the room?  Sounds like laser focus to me.

However, having been a derivative trader for 10 years, I dispute the concept of laser focus being the main requirement.  A trader has to take in information from multiple sources at the same time and process it quickly.  Sounds like multi-tasking to me.  So does cooking breakfast, getting the kids dressed and off to school, reviewing the spelling words for the test that day and responding to an urgent work email all while making sure the baby doesn’t eat the dog food.

Unfortunately, I am now guilty of the same crime as Mr Tudor Jones.  I’ve generalized and stereotyped.  When we can all stop doing that, is when we’ll see the best qualified person for the job get it and succeed, whether that’s a man or a woman.

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