Paul Tudor Jones: Another Reason Women Still Have So Far to Go

UVA-symposiumBillionaire trader Paul Tudor Jones recently told an audience at the University of Virginia, when asked why the investment symposium panel on which he was speaking featured only “rich, white, middle-aged men:”

“You will never see as many great women investors or traders as men — period. End of story.”

And why is that? Well, Jones, the 58-year-old hedge fund founder, contends that it’s not because women aren’t capable, but because ladies are too focused on bonding with their babies!

When talking about specific examples to support his broad ‘women will never make it in the dog eat dog work of investing,’ Jones referenced two women he knew in his early professional days:

“Within four years, by 1980… they both got married. They both got married and then they both had, which in my mind is as big a killer as divorce is, they both had children.

And as soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom [note, the “girl” was his age, at least mid-20s at this point. Was Jones a “boy” then?],  forget it. Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what’s going to make this go up or going to go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience which a man will never share about emotive connection between that mother and that baby.”

Talk about the bearer of the anti-women’s empowerment message.

Not surprisingly, there has been plenty of uproar over Jones’ comments, which some are calling “bosom-gate,”  the focus of which has been on the offensiveness of his remarks to smart women everywhere who are also mothers.

But my take on what he said is a little different from the reactions I’ve read  — people, including University of Virginia faculty, are furious because Jones was so definite about women not making it into the highest level of the investment/trading world. I’m not furious about that — I’m outraged about his smug assumption of the superior brilliance of people in his profession, his absolutely sure of himself views that he knows that the bond between mother and child is something men can never understand, his silly statements comparing the optimal age of athletes to the optimal age of traders (See, women miss out on those massively important years because they’re suckling babies!).

I hardly know where to start, but I’m going to go with questioning the basic assumption that everyone seems to make — that there’s something wrong that there aren’t more women in this branch of high finance. Yes, there’s something wrong but the something wrong is that the Paul Tudor Jones career types have so much power and make so much money. I don’t want more women in those types of jobs, I want those types of jobs to be rewarded appropriately for their worth. They produce nothing, they are only about money, and they are based on greed and competition for power. Jobs like that should be paid less than garbage collection, which produces a real good for society.

In the history of the world, the work dominated by women has been given less reward, considered of less worth than the work dominated by men. Is there a logical reason that nursery school teachers, mainly women, who do so much to shape our children are paid so poorly and rarely have basic benefits such as sick leave or health insurance or retirement? Why does a financial advisor with a college degree and not much else make more than a middle-school teacher with a master’s degree who is responsible for the intellectual development of 150 or so teenagers?

The pay scale and status of professions have always been distorted by gender, but have become more so over the last few decades with the growth of power in corporations and the financial sector. Is it coincidence that as more women have entered medicine, the power and income of doctors have decreased while that of the CEOs (mainly male) of the profit-making health insurance companies have ballooned?

Essentially, we demean and disregard the importance of people who do hands-on work, who deal with people and real lives. Often those are women (excepting police and fire fighters, a majority of whom are male). Meanwhile, we elevate those people who know how to make money from money (not from building things), who screw people over and make many millions doing so (sub-prime lending anyone?).

Maybe in a weird way Paul Tudor Jones is right — maybe women will never be seen in equal numbers to men at those levels of finance, but maybe it’s not because of some mythical female-only bonding with children, but because there are a lower percentage of women who are that shallow, that greedy, that selfish. (There are plenty of shallow, greedy and selfish women. I’m just hypothesizing that the percentage of them among women might be lower than the percentage of them among men).

And I say “mythical female-only bonding” because what’s mythical is that such bonding is female-only. I know plenty of fathers happily consumed and enchanted by their children. I know when our three-year-old son was rendered helpless and futureless by a major stroke, it was his father who devoted every spare moment to his endless, depressing care, not me.

As for comparing the prime age of athletes with the prime age of traders, what a crock of you-know-what. Only over-arching adolescent male silliness would have him comparing financial folks to top athletes. It’s clear he has a covert wish to garner the adulation and masculine superstardom enjoyed by top athletes, but wishing doesn’t make it so.

And Jones’ assuming that male and female development follow the same course and peak at the same time. That’s just ignorance. What’s to say that a women’s peak moments in trading might not be at age 40? Since there are so few women in that field, Mr. Jones has no experience on which to base his absolutely-sure, no-doubt proclamations. No, those proclamations rest on massive ignorance.

Which is what he displayed with his foolish statements and what the audience who applauded and laughed displayed with their approval of his statements.

P.s. I did some of my best statistical work while nursing my third child — pumping and freezing the milk while at work.

Marti Teitelbaum lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She is the mother of two high-energy girls (a twenty-something future radical social worker and a finally full teen 13-year-old!) and is married to a psychiatrist who devotes half his work life to a child mental health clinic. For almost 20 years, Marti used her degree in public health to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, producing most of their numbers on children’s health, disability, health insurance, Medicaid, and immunization. She has always been a political junkie and a fiber-holic and now, for the first time in her life, has the time to indulge in both of these addictions. Politics and weaving have a lot in common: both take a lot of thought and preparation and both have a lot of complicated entanglements. But the difference is that weaving calms the soul and produces something useful and potentially beautiful. Politics doesn’t.

Image via the Washington Post

  • Amy McVay Abbott

    One of my first bosses was a middle aged white male and he was a horrible alcoholic, or a good one, depending on how you looked at it. Does this mean all white male bosses I had in my career were horrible alcoholics? Hardly. What a jackass.

    • Marti Teitelbaum

      He boasted about his Ph.D. in Probabilistic Theory (?) — but doesn’t understand what it means to draw conclusions from evidence rather than anecdotes.

  • Jordan Stanley

    “(There are plenty of shallow, greedy and selfish women. I’m just hypothesizing that the percentage of them among women might be lower than the percentage of them among men).”

    You live in a fantasy world if you seriously believe this statement. Your article is very biased.

    Yes, women are 100% capable of becoming excellent traders, but everything comes with a price.

    The road to become an excellent trader is certainly a lot easier for men. One of the reasons you don’t see as many women managing hedge funds is because their road is surrounded by many more challenges than the road that most men face.

    Obviously, there are MANY other reasons why women don’t hold as many hedge fund positions as men, but to say that there are fewer women who are greedy and selfish is a very bold statement.

    Financial services is a meritocracy. In this day and age, banks, funds, and other institutions hire people based on their abilities to do the job. If a woman is better than a man, they will hire the female, period. I’ve seen it happen countless times. I can’t say the same for other industries. If you want proof that financial services is a meritocracy, look at the amount of women holding executive level positions in INDIAN banks.

    • Martha Teitelbaum

      Maybe in your experience it’s a meritocracy, but I’ve seen a number of people making lots of money in financial services who don’t merit much of anything. They make money with tricks (e.g., churning their clients stocks to earn commissions rather than to increase the client’s wealth) not with quality. There’s the young financial advisor I know who got his job right out of college at twice the salary of people in teaching and nursing — got the job because of his father’s high position in the firm. And how about all those people who made huge amounts of money off risky home loans? Or the ones who have overseen the fraudulent foreclosures (where the mortgage company didn’t actually have the legal right to foreclose, just the money and connections). Those people didn’t merit anything, but they got away with billions.
      But don’t be insulted — it’s not only in the financial world that merit isn’t the basis of success. I don’t see much of a meritocracy in most places these days. The difference is that lack of merit pays a whole hell of a lot better in the financial world than it does in many other workplaces.

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