Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Now this post is to understand & evaluate why there are such few women in the world of M&A - this is a question which has perplexed me for the longest time I have been here.

The adverse sex-ratio in a bank such as mine is not new or uncommon. However, with all the talk on breaking glass ceilings and ensuring women rise to the top, there is very little done to retain female talent. While recruiting in business school, there is definitely a big push to recruit more female Associates, that being said - that does not mean a less qualified woman would be hired over a man. It merely means that between two equally qualified candidates - being a woman could give you a slight advantage in a banking interview.

However, once you join it is a level playing field - sometimes a bit too level.  There are certain traits that I observed about the women who make it to senior management in an investment bank - a) they are extremely aggressive and dominating b) there is an obvious effort to subdue their femininity and c) they tend to be harsher and less empathetic than their male counterparts.

This I think stems from an inherent need to succeed in an testosterone - fueled environment, where any weakness or any display of feminine traits are seen as you being less capable or not up to the challenge. In order to succeed as a banker particularly in M&A - the sacrifices and hours that a person needs to put in to climb the proverbial ladder to success is I think physically and emotionally taxing particularly for a woman. After a point of time- she starts to think marriage, kids and of slowing down - which is a complete anti-thesis to being a cut-throat banker.
Not to say it can't be done - there are a few examples of women who made it to MD level albeit with an army of nannies and having multitude of stay-at-home husbands.

The question that begs to be asked if whether - can we ever have a Marissa Mayer type woman lead an Investment Bank, who embraces her femininity and carries her pregnancy as a talisman while steering a Fortune 500 company? For all talk about banks being equal opportunity employers - probably not!! 

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking about the same question ever since I joined my bank. Then I came up with my own answer though never got the chance to share with any other female M&A investment banking analyst as there is no one else in my group.

    I believe the reason being, M&A itself is a extremely demanding and stressful job, for both man and woman. But women tend to have more options: doing a saner but less paid jobs, be a house cat, etc. It is simply because most women don't want to do this job in the first place, rather than it is so difficult for them to get into the business. Personally I know many super intelligent female friends who are smarter than my male peer analysts but they preferring starting their own business or going to art school...doing things that actually making a difference...