Tuesday, 8 May 2012

" I have reservations dating female bankers"  so says a guy I met a few weeks back. Now one would think evolved human beings - intelligent, independent, capable and confident men, fellow MBA's would be devoid of such prejudices and not typecast women as per their looks or professions but look beyond that - say into personality,compatibility, intellect etc perhaps ? But Alas, that is not to be so. It is so common to hear this from very smart guys - who actually dont seem to seek the same level of brains or ambitions in their partners but would be very happy meeting someone pretty yet woefully stupid as long as she doesnt "intimidate " him. Someone is feeling a bit insecure, is it ??

Now, for me there are 2 categories of men - douchebags and the non-douchebags. I have met plenty of the former and happy to share some instances similar to the above.

After a year in this job, I can safely conclude that my profession is a man-repellent. This has been arrived at after some carefully conducted social experiments for e.g. - you walk into a bar and drop the I-banker bomb and Voila! watch how the men make a beeline for the exit. Someone I met explained this quite succintly as " Look, its a simple theory - I like my women cheap and easy. I-banker women make for hard work - who has the time to deal with an intelligent woman!"
I have tried another approach - pretending to be anything from a film editor, primary school teacher and sometimes being as vague as " I work in fashion" - now that apparently, suddenly rings a bell in the mind of the man and you can almost see his brain whirring and whipping up the equation: Fashion = pretty+brainless+ACTION" - Ka-chinggggggg!!! Sometimes, you can also play the game of - "What do you think I do" - I got a range of answers - boring ones - HR, marketing (ofcourse the guy is hoping you do NOTHING cerebral) to the most interesting one was - Professional Gymnast ! I LOVED this one - and figured thats the one I go with - yes, I am a professional gymnast - I have demonstrated great flexiblity to adapt to bullshit bingo, I skip through mindless hurdles and obstacles put forward by my braindead superiors, I race against time to meet deadlines - yup, sounds exactly like me!!

Now, another time I met a lawyer who started with the opening line of " Hey, I work in So-and-So law firm, how are you?" So after boring pleasantries were exchanged, I started inquiring a bit more about his work and asked him what law he practises, so he says " Oh, a little bit of this and that, mostly in finance - private equity financing - but honey, let me not bore you " this smug expression was accompanied with a patronizing pat of my hand and then continued to say "Forget about me, tell me about what You do". 
Now, I was torn between stringing this guy along, batting my eyelids,cooing meekly and saying " WOW - private equity, that sounds soo cool " but chose to say " I am an investment banker, previously worked in PE.Oh, I am also an MBA and specialised in VC & PE".  All of a sudden, you can almost hear the screeching noise as the mental images he is conjuring up come to a grinding halt as he suddenly backtracks, flusters, says he needs some water and is gone quicker than you can say " ROI & IRR"

Now, that's not to say there is no solution to this,the women at my workplace, the very few who have made it to leadership positions in the banking world have devised a great way around this problem.A senior female MD shared it with me at a networking lunch when I questioned her about how she maintains a work-life balance and a family life. She just smiled at me very condescendingly as if thinking " such a naive question - this one knows nothing" and then said very conspiratorially " Just get a stay-at-home husband" .
I laughed and asked hesitantly " no, seriously ?", only to get her offended. " I am being serious - I have a stay at home husband, he looks after the kids while I'm at work - it is very convenient, you should get one of those !!!"

So, I guess, somewhere the men are not wrong for avoiding the i-banker variety, when I finished my lunch, I could only sigh and think - I need a new job!!!


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  2. Hey dear. I believe this to be a very interesting article and can understand your frustration.. I am not in investment banking and Europe is a pretty advanced country. But I really faced that when going to work in marketing in China ( it not that brainless) and my colleagues were explaining how , if I wanted to land a Chinese guy, I had to pretend I was weak, calm him for help for silly things and then confess to him my eternal inspiration and so on ... And basically I couldn't. The result was just I felt like a noble statue totally above emotional waves. When back to Europe it felt so good feeling like I was not a statue anymore but a woman , who deserved love and care. So yes.. I'm sure they are people out there who would appreciate your smartness. And that one will probably need to be very comfortable with himself and will be worth your time. Also I suggest travelling. The context change and you meet very clever people from different horizons who won't have much clue about what you do ( ib is a very London thing dear, I'm French and back here only a very limited crowd has an idea , many others are fascinated by other topics ) good luck , it's all relative . ( by the way you said you were Asian ! How is that perceived back home ?)

  3. Agree with you. Nowadays I don't even tell them that I am an Ibanker doing M&A - It only scared guys away. I tell them I am a 1)lawyer of some random laws; or 2)tv hostess in a random show or 3)athlete of some random sports, depending on the day and mood