While searching on the Blorg Theory blog site from one of Jordi’s previous classes, I came across a blog entitled “Blame it on the Beard” that discussed the effects of gender inequality on Wall Street and why the blog author, Molly, believes that the “the absence of women on wallstreet was a contributing factor to the Great Recession.” Molly bases her research on a book from the library called “Selling Women Short: Gender and Money on Wall Street.” This book does not directly connect the recession with the lack of women on Wall Street as Molly is arguing, but Molly claims that “it is very helpful in describing why women are less prone to achieve advanced positions in finance.” This is something that many people are aware of, but not something we usually analyze further to get to the bottom of the reasons why this fact is true. Apparently, these reasons are as follows: risk-taking behavior is central to a successful career on Wall Street, something that women are much less inclined to take part in than men; additionally, managers tend to promote employees who resemble themselves or their clients — consequently, females are much more likely to be assigned to female clients with less lucrative accounts; finally, the book discusses “how senior male managers tend to take men under their wings due to shared interests and backgrounds.” This gives men a huge advantage for leverage in the company over women, and can lead to the explanation of why there are so many less women on Wall Street than men. Molly quotes the book, which states, “Preferences among managers for junior employees who resemble themselves or who have higher social status could affect access to opportunity, pay and promotion. Those who promote their own careers may also receive more than those who wait for others to notice their contributions, and men are more likely to promote themselves while women tend to have less of a sense of entitlement” (page 70).
Molly then refers to psychological studies on men and risk-taking behavior. They are “Personality and Risk-Taking: Common Biosocial Factors” by Marvin Zuckerman and D. Michael Kuhlman from the University of Delaware, which shows that men are much more likely to be characterized as having high impulsive sensation seeking behavior, and a Harvard study called “Testosterone and Financial Risk Preferences,” which focuses on “analyzing the direct relationship between testosterone and risk-taking” and found that there is a positive correlation between risk-taking and salivary testosterone levels as well as facial masculinity. This means that the more masculine a man’s face is, the more likely they are to take risks! So strange.
I found this previous blog to be extremely interesting, and something that I had never considered as a potential factor in the financial crisis. There were undoubtedly several steps that were taken on Wall Street prior to the financial crisis that can be characterized as “risky behavior.” While it would be ridiculous for me to argue that if more women were present on Wall Street that the recession would not have taken place, it is interesting to consider whether or not the presence of women would have made a difference in the risky decisions that were made by the men on Wall Street. The bearded men, that it.