You'd better sit down, because this one is going to come as a shock.
There is a gender bias on Wall Street.
Former Goldman Sachs VP Charlotte Hanna filed suit against the firm yesterday, claiming she was terminated for breeding. The suit claims she was demoted after returning from maternity leave in 2005, and then fired right before returning from maternity leave in 2009. She also claims the bank put her on a "mommy-track" in order to make it easier to let her go.
With my affinity for math, I think I'd start looking for the common denominator. Let's see...I had one kid and got demoted, what do I think will happen if I have two?
I'm not trying to make light of Ms. Hanna's dilemma. She clearly has the patience of a saint, because her duties at Goldman entailed dealing with incoming analysts, associates, and interns. God only knows how mind numbing that has to be day after day. But it just seems a little naive for a woman on Wall Street to expect to be handled with kid gloves because she, well, has a kid.
Is there discrimination on Wall Street? Of course there is. Is it right? Of course not. But neither is taking $2 trillion from the American taxpayer, and I gotta say I'm a little more concerned about that one than I am whether a bank employee is being sanctioned for reproducing.
And I think Ms. Hanna's case is at the heart of gender bias on the Street. Men are preferred over women based upon the assumption that they are willing to choose work over family. You're free to disagree, but the numbers bear this out. Why else do you think there are so many thrice-married (like me) senior guys whose children treat them like contemptible ATM machines?
We talk a lot about work/life balance on this site, and I always get a chuckle out of the envy shown toward PE guys who "only" put in 60-70 hours a week. I got news for you, fellas. If you're working 60-70 hours a week, you've got work and you've got life. What you don't got is balance. I think at some point the majority of women are no longer willing to sacrifice family on the altar of work, and then you run into a situation like this one.
What's the answer? I really don't know. I'm not going to say that the Street should change. But maybe it should. Again, I really don't know. Believe me, there were many nights and weekends I was glad I had a job in finance so I could hide from the harpies I was married to (present wife excluded, of course).
This post has meandered a bit, but now I'd like to hear from you guys. When, if ever, do you expect to have kids? And do you expect to do it while you're still on the Street?