Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why So Few Female Traders

When you speak off the cuff, silly sounding things can pop out. Thats why I am so reluctantly to speak quickly over the radio, and I need pauses so that i don't say things such as those said by Paul Tudor Jones.

Paul Tudor Jones, the billionaire hedge fund manager, at a charity fund-raiser in 2008.

For a billionaire hedge fund manager who carefully manages his public image, Paul Tudor Jones had a minor crisis on his hands. Mr. Jones, a billionaire and philanthropist of legendary stature in the minds of many Wall Street traders, was forced on Thursday to explain what he meant in remarks that surfaced in a video published by The Washington Post. The video, depicting a University of Virginia symposium in April, shows Mr. Jones trying to explain why there is a scarcity of female traders.

“As soon as that baby’s lips touch that girl’s bosom, forget it,” Mr. Jones, who has three daughters, says in the video. “Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what’s going to make this go up or go down, is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience, which a man will never share, about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby.”

“I’ve just seen it happen over and over,” he added. “I’m talking about trading, not managing.” The video was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

His comments went viral online and were widely criticized. In an e-mail sent to news outlets, Mr. Jones said he was speaking “off the cuff” and referring in particular to “global macro traders,” who work across multiple markets.

“Macro trading requires a high degree of skill, focus and repetition,” Mr. Jones said by way of clarification. “Life events, such as birth, divorce, death of a loved one and other emotional highs and lows are obstacles to success in this specific field of finance.” He added that success was possible “as long as a woman or man has the skill, passion, and repetitions to work through the inevitable life events that arise along the way.”

The episode was an uncomfortable turn for Mr. Jones, who earlier this month was called a “modern-day Robin Hood” by CBS News’s “60 Minutes” in a report on the financier’s charitable foundation.

Watching the video, there was a “pit in my stomach of how 1950s that is,” Alexandra Lebenthal, chief executive of the financial firm Lebenthal & Company, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday.

“I’m not sure that bonding experience of breastfeeding is all that wonderful,” Ms. Lebenthal added.

Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, said on MSNBC: “What you see in this is actually what a lot of men on Wall Street still actually think.”

Mr. Jones’s theory is “scientifically unsound,” Simone Foxman said in Quartz. “Women don’t produce as much cortisol when in risky situations and therefore — theoretically at least — aren’t as likely to be as overwhelmed by negative emotions.”

My View is that there is some truth in it, but very little in effect. Let's be honest, Paul is not the person who created the financial trading system, he merely commented on the reality. Truth be told, most good traders who happen to be men, are also mostly dead inside. Nuff said. The ability to focus and block out other thoughts and considerations are paramount to be a great trader. Let's be frank, how many of us can do that without our minds wondering and wandering. Great traders usually have very empty lives, have to keep drowning their hollow soul with liquor and checking their bank balance gives them the kind of temporary adrenaline high to remind themselves falsely that what they are doing is worthwhile.

The reason why most great traders are men lies in the society structure and biases - men still have certain advantages in terms of "old boys network", and preferential treatment when hiring traders. The whole system is geared towards a brutal Darwinian elimination process. Only the good survive the industry. When you have 980 men and 20 women in trading positions to start with ... isn't it normal to see the top ten traders being largely men, maybe 9/10 or even 10/10.