Women in Trading (men and women perspective)

I'm a sophomore studying finance and will be interning for Equity Trading this summer and next summer in New York as a Sales and Global Markets Trading intern. I have done my research on my roles, but I'm heavily curious on what the vibe would be like of me being a woman in a male dominated industry. 

Sexist jokes never sit well with me and I'm pretty social and confident person but I don't want to have to put in extra work in order to not be an outcast in this field. 

Please let me know any information you have heard, witnessed, or your opinion on what I should expect as a woman and any tips. ANY information on this topic is helpful, I really know nothing on the vibe because I have never stepped foot in the office.

P.S., I really don't think I should deserve any special treatment, I just want to be treated like everyone else, whether that's getting yelled at just as hard as the other guys or being just as rewarded as the other guys.

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Comments (13)

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
May 4, 2021 - 6:01pm

I think you should expect to be treated like shit. But that's not because you are a woman. That is because almost everyone is treated like shit at the intern/analyst level in high-finance. 

Coming into your internships with this mentality will make the tough situations that much easier. Otherwise you may feel like you are being targeted in a sexist way when in actuality almost all analysts are treated like dirt. 

If you have any ego at all, try and kill it before you start. You know nothing. You are an ant at the bottom of a foothill. Embrace it, and you will climb. 

May 4, 2021 - 6:13pm

That's key information. How should I react when bosses and higher-up individuals are "treating me like shit"? Should I have a bow down attitude, act unfazed, etc? I see myself only reacting to the actual information they are trying to communicate to me, rather than the emotions they will have when speaking to me in a rude way. I hope this makes sense...

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
May 4, 2021 - 7:03pm

Listen to their feedback so that you don't make the same mistake twice. 

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  • PM in HF - Other
May 4, 2021 - 6:43pm

Truly will depend on your skillset and interests, I think many people on this forum think sales is more dying than trading. But think anything outside of "general/vanilla sales" should do fine. Some desks/products will be quanty. In terms of "being prepared to be treated like shit", long ago I had a mentor tell me never apologize on the desk if you mess up a coffee/lunch order or a task, acknowledge your mistake and never say sorry. Observe, learn, leverage your interests but as mentioned try to not take things too seriously and be humble.

May 10, 2021 - 3:56pm

IMO the desk is way to regulated for anything really bad to be said.

On a trading floor you are an earshot away from senior management and none of that flies anymore.

Old guys claim they miss the old days when banter was allowed, but it is just the way the industry is trending.

Most Helpful
May 11, 2021 - 9:30am

I'm not a female, but I know quite a few female traders who have been around for a while (all of them are now in their 30s).  Obviously everyone is different, and I'm not trying to start some misogyny contest, but these are some general things I've heard from them: 

1. Females often handle direct feedback (especially in public) worse than males do. So when a senior guy on the desks calls you out because you fucked up their coffee order, it's not personal.  In trading, feedback is often harsh (you fuck up a trade, you lose money), so a lot of times desk culture cuts through a lot of bullshit and sugar-coating.  Just know that it's not because your'e female, it's because you're a junior person who doesn't have the baseline knowledge yet.  

2. On average, females have higher risk aversion - this doesn't say anything about you personally, but it does help explain why so many more females in S&T end up on the sales side over trading.  There is also a little bit of a feedback loop where incoming women see senior women more in sales, and naturally start gravitating towards those seats.  

3. The biggest impediment career wise in trading is often senior females.  This is tougher to swallow, and hopefully becomes less of an issue going forward.  Basically, in a job where females have been relatively uncommon (like in trading), the females that have stuck around will often try to "defend" their seat and achievements from other females.  I've had multiple friends at different shops tell me they would have senior level females actively stifle their career progression, either because of feeling threatened, or because they would be seen as replaceable going forward.  Stuff like giving a more junior or worse male trader more responsibilities, or passing over promotions until the younger females are older (e.g. "I got this book when I was 28, so I'm not giving it to any female under 30").  In general, males don't care that much, as long as the output is good.

4. The compliance culture at banks is way too tight for anyone to really go over the edge on blatant sexism (especially male to female).  For example, we would often do this thing with interns on seeing who would offer the cheapest dollar amount to shave their head (or one eyebrow, or something like that).  Usually one of the hardos would be way too aggressive and we'd lift them, and make a moment of it in the floor.  As a female, even if you put out a ridiculously low offer, nobody will ever make you shave your head, or do anything that sort of frat-hazy.  You have some in-built protections from this perspective.  

EDIT: Also, since you're interning, I think it's really important to understand what that entails.  Basically everyone is going to assume you know nothing.  Despite bring on the desk for the better part of a summer, you'll still sort of be the lowest priority person - the people on the desk need to do their actual jobs first and foremost.  The most important thing you can do is be attentive and be willing to learn things and ask good questions when people aren't busy.  This is agnostic of gender and is going to be way more impactful than any sort of male/female dynamics.  Your job is to learn and come across as engaged and intelligent - it's not to be the next John Arnold while you're on the desk.  

May 13, 2021 - 8:31pm

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