Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

You won’t like me when I’m angry

April 5, 2010

» Life with the seedy men of the City

This article made me so angry. Aside from the obvious stereotyping which only works to discourage women from seeking jobs in the city, and the lack of emphasis on one of the key issues – a skills gap with not enough women applying for scientific and mathematical subjects at degree level – there’s just the bad journalism. The facile joining together of a parliamentary report about the under-representation of women and individual horror stories. It would be just as easy to link the report with my blog and say “investment banking is a beacon of equality”. Neither is true.

The report rings a bell at the moment because I am mentoring a graduate. The key job, as I understand it, is convincing her that this kind of rubbish is not true. So that’s really helped: discouraging women from applying to roles in banking because we’re all monsters.

I’m not even taking it personally that I’m dismissed as having the mentality of a teenager. Mostly because I do have the mentality of a teenager. It’s weird. It’s like it almost knows me.

However, quote of the day must be:

“It devolves responsibility to the City to remedy the problem, as reports did in the 1960s, since which time nothing has changed,” said Lawrence Davies, of the solicitors Equal Justice. “People who profit from discrimination do not get their houses in order until there is an economic imperative to do so. The average award in a sex discrimination case is £12,000, the cost of an average corporate lunch.”

I’m eating at all the wrong restaurants.

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MPs urge City boards to close gender gap

April 3, 2010

» MPs urge City boards to close gender gap

A report by the Treasury select committee finds “disappointingly few” women on City of London boards and evidence of a “significant” pay gap that is wider than elsewhere in the business world.

“The pay gap exists at entry level,” said John McFall, chairman of the committee, which will monitor the situation during the next parliament.

It’s a worrying situation. The idea of banks being full of alpha males who are casually bigoted is a widespread one, as is the idea that the hunger to win, the appetite for risk and bigotry are uniquely male traits. Harriet Harman’s comments that Lehman Brothers would not have failed had it not been Lehman Sisters is a classic example of reverse sexism based upon false information – shortly before its failure, Lehman’s CFO was a woman, Erin Callan*.

There certainly are financial firms which are still in the dark ages (as there are for any industry), but most banks are on the extreme end of the PC scale and obsessed with the idea of “talent” – their entire view on how they pay is that they are looking to hire the best of the best. The idea that a male graduate employee and a female graduate employee will be paid different things sounds wrong (not to say illegal), so something is going on within these statistics.

Banks, though, do not lend themselves to flexibility. However much they try, they are a slave to the financial markets which have fixed opening hours of 8am to 4.30pm. If traders need to do additional work they can either hope for a quiet market, or do it from 6am to 5.30pm. Not everyone is a trader, not everyone has the same restrictions (I don’t), but the hours of the market drive many other considerations and the more senior people get, they more restrictive those market hours become.

One should always be wary of an industry trying to defend itself against charges of prejudice by claiming special status. On the other hand, neat but untrue stereotypes are something else to be wary of, particularly when used as a basis for policy.

* To be fair to Erin, she wasn’t in the job very long and probably not long enough to make a difference.