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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?

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Comments (13)

  • Beef's picture

    Definitely not going to be anywhere near the Street when I have kids (probably when I hit 28 or so). I'm planning to be somewhere in California at that time.

    Wall Street leaders now understand that they made a mistake, one born of their innocent and trusting nature. They trusted ordinary Americans to behave more responsibly than they themselves ever would, and these ordinary Americans betrayed their trust.

  • awp's picture

    The major mistake she made is two get pregnant two times.

    I have everything planned already for myself:

    After first two years working go for kids.
    Being a real economist there is only one way to do it and that is to shoot twins through. This way there is no shortfall in earnings for a second time. all planned....

    to the topic in general, I think it is no surpirse for anyone that in an industry so driven by hard work, everybody who takes time off will have to leave at some point. Of course it is sad that a women who gets pregnant get axed. On the other hand I would hate it if she is was above me on the "career track" blocking my progress if all she does is staying home whilst I work hard.

  • CNB90's picture

    Kids, not planning on having them until I'm at least 29. I figure, if I work hard, I can become an MD by 32-34 meaning I'll have easier hours later in life and more money. Women like money and kids like the time. Everybody's happy.

    Of course, I cant say anything is concrete. I have a desire to start my own firm so who knows where I'll be then..maybe I'm impotent..

  • Peter_27's picture

    Being a VP doesn't require 100 hours a week, but taking leave for that long kind of hurts your career, because banking is so fast paced of a field, so by the time you get back you have missed quite a bit, and remember VPs do a lot of client interaction, so yea I understand where she is coming from, but she has to remember the competitive nature of Wall Street. Personally I dare not mix banking with kids, unless I were an MD.

    edit: After reading the article I see she was not working in Banking Ops. And the's been there since 1998 hmm. I'm guessing goldman will try and settle this out of court

  • AKnightsTale's picture

    Well I've made my decision some time ago... I believe it is near impossible to find reasonable time to dedicate to kids/family when you are working 70-80+ in finance. So it is best to work your damnedest and accumulate enough riches and life experience before procreating.

    I want to have my kids to grow up while I'm around and provide as much personal involvement as I can: financial support is one of the tools to achieve that level of involvement and dedication.

    Ideally, I'd like to have kids at 30-32 but you don't have control over everything in life (especially not always of where/who your d*ck is going to hit), so you may need to make contingency plans...

    By 35-37 I hope to be quite senior in my firm so that I don't have to put in the crazy work hours the new guns indulge in. Maybe I can make another kid or two by then:)

    I just play to win...

  • darwins monkey's picture

    ^ +1

    I have a similarly planned career/life trajectory. Granted, as a male the pregnancies will affect me less; however, I would like to be around for my kids. If I can be around during the week, great, but I am just hoping to have MY weekends to spend with family.

  • moneyneversleeps2's picture

    This woman can't be serious. All that lawsuit is doing is making Goldman even less likely to hire a woman for higher ranked positions. Every woman on Wall St knows that we have to work our way up tuntil 32-33t hen have kids and maybe return. What makes her think Goldman is going to wait around for her...twice?! Thanks for taking the Women on Wall Street movement back a few years :(

  • mccallvol's picture

    Regarding the situation, I also completely agree with lg0718. She really should have seen that one coming and now she's making this huge scene that will hurt all women trying to get into business who actually aren't planning on putting family first until later in the game.

    You have to think about it another way also though, these sorts of actions only make it harder for smart people to reproduce. We do want intelligence to stick around and there doesn't seem to be anything stopping dumb people from having 10 kids each

  • fhurricane's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    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.

    I didn't pay attention to who wrote this, but once I saw this sentence I knew who did.
  • ReadLine's picture

    If you are going to terminate somebody should it be the person who has been at work and on top of current situations- or should it be the mother who has been gone on maternity leave for the past few months?

    It's not about hurting mothers, its about operating to the benefit of the firm. A firm doesn't owe any extra benefits to an employee just because she's a mother. (Congrats on your child- but come on you're not doing it for us!)

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