Mansplaining or Patronizing?

Clarification: Thank you for interacting with this post. To clarify, I am always super grateful for people's time, don't get me wrong. I never pretend that I am the best or know it all. I always sit, listen, ask questions and thank people at the end. I initially didn't want to describe what happened in detail but here is one little story for some context:

It happened a couple of times that they explained basic concepts (think same level as what is EV or what is beta, which I don't mind by the way...). But once, one of them told me to my face that based on my knowledge, I shouldn't be an Analyst. Here, explaining becomes a problem when it is used against me. The truth is that I already knew the stuff but didn't want to argue. I have 2 other similar stories so I know that I am not jumping to the wrong conclusion. For anyone who says men and women don't work well together, I like my male colleagues and bosses and the best 3 people I have worked with are men. My question is: would you stand up for yourself if this happened to you?

Initial post: I worked with incredible men in IB but I also had experience with 2 men who always assume that I don't know things and start explaining without taking the time to understand my background (not to discriminate but this could be cultural because they're from the same background). I tried to stop one once but the person pushed back as if I was rude so I never did it again (better sound dumb than rude?).

I am pretty sure that they now think I am shit (may even spread the word as I am a new analyst). How should I approach this situation? How can I correct their perception without harming my reputation? Male and female advice is welcome.

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Comments (43)

Sep 12, 2021 - 9:33am

You're a new analyst. Be thankful they are taking the time to explain things to you and just listen. It comes off incredibly annoying when analysts try to always prove that they already know what you're trying to explain to them. If you carry yourself confidently and produce thoughtful and error free work, nobody will think you're dumb.

Most Helpful
  • VP in IB-M&A
Sep 12, 2021 - 10:11am

Most Analysts don't know anything so it's fairly standard for any experienced banker to add an explanation. If they are the only two bankers treating you like this it could be because you're a woman, who knows, but it could be because they have had past experience with know it all Analysts that didn't actually know anything resulting in work being trash. At the end of the day you need to ask yourself if you would have jumped to the same conclusion of sexism if it were two women acting in the same manner. And before some idiot tries to say women can't be sexist toward other women, yes they can and it happens quite a lot.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 12, 2021 - 3:16pm

And before some idiot tries to say women can't be sexist toward other women, yes they can and it happens quite a lot.

Exactly. We have to put up with them somehow but even women can't stand each other.

Sep 13, 2021 - 12:08pm

Dittoed everything above.  As an A2 at a new bank. I get explained basic concepts all the time.  I know it is rudimentary, but at the end of the day it helps me understand how my ASO, VP's and Directors think about things. I would just take it in stride and if you know the concept, try and understand how your higher ups like things shown and explained on slides. Do this an you will be right on your way to Top bucket.  

Funniest
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 12, 2021 - 10:24am

I can't believe these men have the gall to explain things from the ground up to a freshly minted AN1. How dare they not respect your background as an economics major. Don't they realize you got a fuckin A in intermediate accounting? One feminist to another, I say you should sue.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 12, 2021 - 10:27am

While as a woman I think there are definitely men in finance who are misogynistic and underestimate the competence of women and especially young women (this website has a fair share of them), it's pretty standard to overexplain to young analysts-of any gender-because there's greater downside to underexplaining an assignment or deal. When you're new, you won't always know what you don't know yet. It can be annoying, but I think as a new analyst the best thing to do is just to listen and do good work; the trust will hopefully follow. However, I would also recommend finding some female mentors in your firm. It's helpful to have people who understand your experience and your company who can offer more personal advice than WSO. Maybe your firm has an affinity group or something similar that you could join?

Sep 12, 2021 - 1:38pm

just produce high quality work products. if they're taking extra time to explain to you something you already know, then there should be no problem completing the task perfectly. and once you pass a perfect work product, they will be impressed with how well you understood them (even if you already knew everything and didn't need explanations).

also, cherish the fact that busy senior bankers spend time on you instead of calling it "mansplaining".

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 12, 2021 - 2:31pm

Girls are so unappreciative. Guys would love the opportunity to have senior guys taking the time to explain shit to them, and use their performance to show they have a good understanding. Probably why they do better in this industry despite not having recruitment/support programs for their sex. My advice - stop victimizing yourself, and realize that the way people treat you isn't always just because you're a girl.

Controversial
  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 12, 2021 - 3:06pm

You know we're not there yet, but eventually we are going to hit that critical mass where both men and women are going to understand that there's just too much incompatibility between the two to consistently work together in a white collar context in an efficient manner. Almost every single issue that is common among male peers is misperceived by women as being a direct attack on their gender. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's just simply not the fact that you're a woman; they're trying to make it work with you by, you know, giving you feedback and critiquing your work. This is part of why this cannot consistently sustain itself, the mental disparity between men and women on criticism is really big. For example, on average, a man will take criticism, sometimes with some bother and annoyance, but they will take it and attempt to better it. The woman, on average, will take the criticism with respite and see it as a personal attack (simply a product of being genetically pre-disposed to emotiveness) and will rather just have someone else do it for her, because that work will now have been tainted by an attack on her person.

Western society seems to have liberalized itself too much beyond practicality and will inevitably suffer the consequences from this inefficiency that comes as a result of innate gender differences. Incel-ism aside, women just don't get it.  

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 12, 2021 - 3:10pm

Most people, in the real world, meaning off of Twitter and Reddit, will never actually take childlike terms like 'mansplaining' seriously. It's just a product of the average person not really caring nor being that involved in trifle office politics. Imagine confronting your coworkers by telling them that they were 'mansplaining the excel model' to you and that you understand it, regardless of their thoughts on it. Great, you stood up for yourself, but now you just look like a little kid who complained and used some quirky vocabulary word they saw on Netflix and tried to apply it in real life. There's just too much of a gap between theory and reality to fix issues in the way that out of touch theorists and professors propose. Not to say that sexism doesn't exist, of course it does, it's just more subtle than someone explaining what you did wrong on a model to you. We shouldn't take things too personally, man or woman.

Sep 12, 2021 - 4:42pm

Small word of advice for anyone male or female, if an MD is taking time to explain something to you just shut the fuck and nod your head. Even if what they're explaining is redundant just act appreciative. No one gives a shit you're a woman, so take your lashes in stride like the rest of us when we were in your shoes

Sep 12, 2021 - 8:26pm

men dont actually want us in the workplace, they just put up with us. a lot of them dont take us seriously so we have to put in 2x the effort to prove ourselves. girl makes a mistake, shes incompetent. guy makes a mistake, he must be overworked/tired. its also easier for men to get mentorship bc theyre surrounded by tons of men who also like lacrosse, baseball, banging 18 year old college freshman, etc.

Sep 12, 2021 - 9:02pm

Those are some quite sweeping generalizations. The same type of generalizations you would be angry about if someone made them about you.

I am in not saying men or women in the workplace are perfect, but broad generalizations either way aren't really helpful and shut down any conversation or progress.

I am very sorry if you are in an actual situation, not a generalization, in which you feel you are not wanted or welcomed. It isn't acceptable.

"yeah, thats right" High-Five
  • 1
  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Sep 12, 2021 - 10:42pm

Lots of nasty comments here, but OP you're overthinking. They're trying to explain stuff to you as a first year, as you get better and start delivering quality work product they'll just assume you know how to do things. You should focus on befriending your coworkers a bit even if it means sitting through some boring talks.

Also they won't tell anyone you're shit unless you deliver seriously bad work.

Sep 12, 2021 - 11:11pm

Do good work and realize that no one gives a fuck that you are a woman.  No one will ever take the time to understand your background because it doesn't matter - it has absolutely nothing to do w/ anything work related.

Also, don't take things so personally.  It is always best to assume that new analysts don't know everything, explain every aspect of an ask precisely to them, and start giving them incrementally more free reign when they prove that they can follow highly specific instructions w/out fucking up.  You probably did rub someone wrong by pushing back when something is explained to you.  If you have a brain in your head, Assos/VPs will explain things to you that you know how to do.  The response to that is to demonstrate that you know how to do the thing that is being explained by doing it and being able to speak to what you've done.   This isn't a big enough deal for you to be on this person's shit list for any meaningful period of time; however, having a "don't mansplain to me" attitude will put you on many perpetual shitlists.  You are being analystsplained to.  Welcome to banking where fucking up something incredibly simple as an analyst is a rite of passage. 

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

  • 3
Sep 13, 2021 - 1:33am

They did what's likely the most logical thing to do.

Imagine what would happen if all experienced colleagues took the time to "understand the background" of all junior employees instead of "mansplaining": they would presumably ask the junior what they know about topic X, to which the average junior (not saying this is you, but as others have pointed out analysts typically know jack about most topics) would probably reply with a half-assed response or worse pretend that they know when they don't. Then unless the junior nails the response, which would naturally happen very few times, the senior colleague would still have  to explain.

So to iron everything out, it makes sense to explain first: for a stellar junior that feels patronized, there are probably 9 that truly benefit and are happy they didnt' get asked the question.    

Sep 13, 2021 - 8:45am

This isn't a female thing. My superiors did the same thing to me as a guy when I was a new analyst. Totally understood the concepts but they felt like they had to explain it regardless and belittle.  It's just one of those asshole banking things.

Sep 13, 2021 - 12:13pm

When I was a trainee doing the first trades, seniors would babysit me and check every single detail, very often with a slight annoyance because they had other stuff going on. Trainees doing mistakes would get shat on.

So long that people taught me stuff and gave me opportunities, I never complained. Drop the victimhood mentality asap.

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

  • 1
Sep 13, 2021 - 5:44pm

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Sep 20, 2021 - 3:20am

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