Women, by nature ‘less confrontational and more collaborative’, may never match men in upper ranks at Goldman Sachs

by Grace

While the number of women rising in the ranks and raking in big bucks as managing directors and partners at Goldman Sachs has increased, it seems unlikely that full gender parity will be achieved any time soon.

Almost one-quarter (23%) of the newly-minted MDs are women, up from 19% a year ago, according to Bloomberg. Just 14% of this year’s partner class is women, although that’s the highest percentage since at least 2006.

The 346 Goldman employees to be named managing director or partner need not worry about reports highlighting a compensation drain on Wall Street. MDs typically make a base salary of around $500,000, with year-end bonuses that can bring their total compensation well into the millions. Partners, meanwhile, take home around a $1 million base with an even more aggressive incentive plan.

When Jordann Weissmann of the Atlantic asked Why Don’t More Women Get Promoted at Goldman Sachs?he answered his own question by explaining that the main underlying reason is babies.  Mothers with rich husbands are more likely to interrupt their careers to stay home with their children.  Weissmann also concedes that discrimination plays a role.

In the Atlantic, a woman who worked at Goldman Sachs describes the atmosphere there as “a frat on steroids.”

I don’t know, then, what kind of woman is the proper type to succeed at Goldman. Even in benign ways, the place was a giant man-cave. The annual industry citations from Institutional Investor that the analysts strived for were all sports metaphors: making the “All Star” team, or, even better, to be chosen as a Hall of Famer. It seems to me that in order to be the kind of good-humored “team player” that would smilingly go to Scores or on a booze-filled golf retreat, you’d also have to be the kind of person to negate your extra X chromosome, i.e., you’d have to be the kind of person to negate who you really are. What woman, really, could sit in her power suit and convincingly enjoy a pair of breasts swinging in the face while her male colleagues and clients ogle g-strings?

All this sounds familiar to me, having spent many years working in New York City’s financial services sector.  A similar but tamer atmosphere prevailed when I worked in the male-dominated oil business, and apparently some of this exists in high tech companies.

Women tend to dominate support services in some industries.
The woman who wrote the Atlantic article worked in the Goldman Sachs communications department, typically a female-dominated department.  I saw this demarcation between the sexes when I worked in financial services and in the oil business.  Women tended to dominate support services like communications, marketing, and drafting technology.  They sometimes tended to view the male-dominated core departments with some derision, so this writer’s perspective is not surprising.

What do investment bankers do on weekends?

20121215.COCToughMudder1

“Goldman brings a massive team,” said Will Dean, the 31-year-old founder of Tough Mudder. “So does Morgan Stanley.

It’s no accident that it’s mainly men (lots of Wall Street types) who participate in activities like the Tough Mudder, “an extreme obstacle course that is becoming the macho sport of choice for Type A men (and some women) who find marathons too easy and triathlons meh”.  During these weekend ordeals, participants have fun crawling in cold mud, swimming in icy water, and competing in other “chest-thumping” races.

And they have their groupies.

As Mr. Cugini crossed the finish line, he was greeted by pretty volunteers who slipped an orange headband over his head and a banana in his hand. A cover band played the White Stripes, and in the dying light, men did pull-ups and drank beer.

Meanwhile, a group of female senators interviewed by ABC News say that because of their nature if women were in charge we would have no fiscal cliff crisis.

Senator Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said by nature women are “less confrontational and more collaborative,” – both traits necessary to reach a deal to avoid the country going over the fiscal cliff.

I don’t doubt that by “nature”, men and women are different.  While full equality of opportunity is desirable, I don’t think we should push for full equality of outcomes between the sexes.  We don’t need an initiative promoting full gender parity among Goldman Sachs partners, for example.

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One Comment to “Women, by nature ‘less confrontational and more collaborative’, may never match men in upper ranks at Goldman Sachs”

  1. Bonnie, would you support affirmative action of some type to make the mix 50/50 at top management of investment banks. Should we have that for all sectors?

    I think it’s a big stretch to think that the economy might be better if more women were at Goldman. Maybe, but maybe not.

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