“Blame it on the Beard”… More Women Should be on Wallstreet


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.

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7 Responses to “Blame it on the Beard”… More Women Should be on Wallstreet

  1. jwhite17 says:

    While I do agree with the assertion that women do not take as many risks as men in finance, I don’t think that having more women would have averted the recession. I have actually read that women generate superior returns than men over periods of time because of this risk aversion, but risk aversion was not valued in these companies before the recession. This created a self-selectivity bias for people who were willing to take the risks. This would mean that if women would have been promoted to high positions they would have necessarily partaken in risky behavior in order to secure said promotion. It would be a different argument to make that if women were in charge companies would have taken on less risk though.

  2. I agree with your comment, Jason. Although this is an interesting perspective on a possible cause of the recession, I do not think it is substantive. I think that women in higher positions would have demonstrated just as risky behavior and not enough research has been done on whether it is gender or level in a company that correlates with business decisions made.

  3. Jordi says:

    It is not ridiculous at all to argue that more women on the “Street” leads to less of a chance of a recession.. That is exactly the implication of the research as you document. The question is hwy are you hesitant to stand by those conclusions? Maybe Bucknell makes you and other women feel that gender is not a “legit” topic to discuss? That there is no sexism, be it overt, or more subtle and institutional? Surely there is nothing to the bearded men argument! It is just something you made up in your pretty little head…

  4. Alyssa Haglund says:

    Well after working on Wall Street for a summer, I can tell you that this male dominated presence is definitely still there. Specifically in smaller trading firms, it is a group of men who act just as if they were on a night out with the boys. This sort of atmosphere may have and influence on the risky actions. I do believe if there were more women mixed in, it may help, even if it just changes the atmosphere…

  5. Pingback: Blog Council Awards | Biz Gov Soc

  6. mike cardinute says:

    My mom works in the same office with a bunch of bond traders and she says they are all pigs. Like Alyssa said, they act like they are out with the guys. They have no regards to the women who are in the office. They do and say whatever they want, whenever they want. I think I might show my mom this post and see if she has anything to comment on LOL. She might get a kick out of it.

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