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On Wall St., Gender Bias Runs Deep -

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The dialog sparked most recently by Marissa Mayer taking the CEO job at Yahoo and Anne-Marie Slaughter's extraordinary piece in The Atlantic Why Women Still Can’t Have It All continues in this Bits piece from the NY Times about gender bias on Wall Street...

Why is Wall Street so slow to promote women? Is that a reflection of U.S. society in general or is there a peculiarity to the Wall Street experience?

“The Wall Street culture is characterized by what you might call really macho kinds of behavior,” said Ilene H. Lang, Catalyst’s president and chief executive. “So what’s looked up to on Wall Street are people who swagger, people who will do the deal at any cost, people who will work day and night, hour and hour, for lots and lots of money and they don’t care about anything else.”

“Those are characteristics that you think about when asked to talk about what the Wall Street culture is,” she said in an interview. “That’s a very masculine, macho culture, again a stereotype, and, in general, it’s very hard for women or men to picture women being that way because that conflicts with the stereotypic norms of what women should be like.”

Ms. Lang, a trailblazer in the high-tech and Internet industries who has headed Catalyst for nine years and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard, continued, “Women who behave in those macho ways are then perceived as being very masculine, and that’s considered very unattractive. While men are aggressive, women are labeled with the ‘B word.’ It is behavior that’s admired in men but despised in women.”

She called it a double bind. This fits an overall pattern, she said, that is specific not to Wall Street but exists wherever traditionally macho behavior is what it takes to be successful. Stereotypic bias runs through everything, she said, like lack of access to networks, lack of role models and gender definition.

It feels like our generation is the generation where majority attitude shifts.

We're breaking it down a little each day.

If you think about it, it's not really all that surprising. Women gaining control of their own reproductive cycles is really key to all of this. The technological development that lead oral contraceptives (aka the Pill) has only been around for a generation or two. It takes a while for our culture to understand the significance of voluntary motherhood.

The shift that allows the culture as a whole to take this development into account will be one of the great accomplishments of this your generation. I thank you, and my daughters will reap the rewards. I can only hope that their contributions in the years to come will repay the debt of thanks.


It's very exciting to be in the middle of shifting sentiment for the better.

We get to lead the change we want in the world!

I love that image, btw.

Thinking more about this in the context of myth of male decline.

It's like the tectonic plates are shifting underneath our feet!

Yeah. Tectonic plates indeed. Probably a good reminder that when you have the power to change the world it's not always going to be easy.

Re-reading Anna Marie Slaughter's piece this weekend reminded me of what a critical role new generations of men have had in making a difference for themselves, their wives and daughters. A good thing.

Yes; we're all in this together!

The key is to keep improving where we are, so where we will be, will be much better!

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