Hedge fund ladies never the right age, say academics

| June 30, 2012 | Comments (0)

In what seemed to be another validation to the gender bias issue against women in the workforce, academics from the University of Leicester School of Management and Essex Business School at the University of Essex revealed that the women working in a hedge fund in London struggled at each stage in their adult life in the company. They were “never the right age in organizational terms,” explains Jo Brewis, Professor of Organisation and Consumption at School of Management at the University of Leicester. She and Dr. Kat Riach, Senior Lecturer in Management at Essex Business School conducted the research in 2010 by interviewing 53 men and women (ages 25 to 37) and conducting 150 hours of observation.

The term “never the right age” was originally coined by Professor Wendy Loretto and Dr. Colin Duncan who published a study in 2004 entitled “Never the Right Age? Gender and Age-Based Discrimination in Employment.” They found that “across all ages, women were more likely than men to experience ageist attitudes concerning appearance or sexuality.”

The study conducted by Brewis and Riach which looked into the concept of “adulting” or “the attempt by people to be seen as mature and responsible, professionally and socially” found that the women working in the hedge fund faced different challenges from the time they started with the company to the moment they returned to work after having a baby.

The moment they entered the fund, they were given no formal training, unlike their male colleagues. Even their mistakes were not pointed out to them when they committed it. After they gave birth, the struggle to maintain their credibility continues. One worker succinctly puts it this way: “I think the pressure is trying to prove (yourself), trying to act as though you haven’t had a baby and still do everything exactly the same, like you’ve got a puppy at home.” While female employees try their best to hide their parental obligations from everyone in the office, the research found that new fathers never had to worry about it.

Ironically, the research came out amidst pronouncements by the staff that they were gender-blind. While one male trader would like to believe that the real bottom line is not about gender but whether an employee is making money or not, the results of the study which was presented in the 7th Gender, Work and Organisation Conference at the University of Keele, yesterday Thursday 28 June 2012 revealed otherwise.

Erin Gloria Ryan, writing for Jezebel, is definitely not happy: “That men treat women differently than their male colleagues is understandable; it’s a well-known fact that women can’t be trusted around money. If they don’t spend it all on shoes, their hormones could make them go crazy and think rolls of quarters are tampons and hundred dollar bills are for bra-stuffing. It’s best to just let them talk amongst themselves and leave the real mental heavy lifting to the guys who brought us every financial collapse since the invention of capitalism.”

Tags: age, , Essex Business School, gender bias, hedge fund, University of Leicester,

Category: Career Girl

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