Our discussion boards have been pretty heated over the past week, as readers have debated whether or not moving up the Wall Street corporate ladder is harder for women than for men.

The latest round of this discussion was inspired, of course, by the recent high profile departure of Sallie Krawcheck from Bank of America. But it’s been a topic of interest to those in financial fields for far longer. Judging by the responses, readers are still divided over whether there’s a glass ceiling and whether or not it’s specific to Wall Street or a sign of a more general malaise.

Below, some highlights from the discussion: http://www.financial-planning.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=323052&topic=2367542


by rabbit »

I would not align Sally Krawcheck's recent status with a glass ceiling on Wall Street. Ms. Krawcheck has merely suffered a typical political play at the top. When a firm isn't producing and the Board is looking for blood, the CEO will throw his/her team to the wolves to buy more time for turnaround. No magic here. Ms. Krawcheck and her colleague may or may not be accountable for lack of momentum - publicly we will never know. Yes there still is a glass ceiling, but let's not confuse a common corporate exercise with this concept.

by e000071 »

Of course there's still a glass ceiling on Wall Street and on Main Street! It's painful to lose two female senior executives, Krawcheck and Bartz, in the same week! The most frustrating aspect of the glass ceiling is that research shows that companies with gender balanced leadership perform better than those without it. Recent studies by CMU & MIT and another by Catalyst detail the benefits of gender balance that would be worthwhile for companies who want to excel in an increasingly more diverse and global marketplace.

 by patmc202 »

Are you serious with this question? How many women need to be left behind before we finally acknowledge it's a fact and has been for at least the last 30 years! It's interesting that the (mostly male) boards and CEOs don't let the facts get in the way of their judgment.. .Female financial advisors tend to outperform their male counterparts in new business generation, client retention ...It's been proven time and again. If I were Sallie, I'd find another industry... How many times does she need to be humiliated??

by Isabella »

Of course there is. Go to any industry meeting and take a look around the room. There has only been a slight increase in the 17 years I've been in the industry, even in "progressive" San Francisco. I still get asked whose wife or assistant I am. Pretty pathetic.

by B Smith »

I strongly suggest as I do with most issues that we as financial planners put aside biases, look at facts, and try to understand the market.

The facts of bias in the market is that you hire those that produce the most for you, or you are an idiot because your competitor does and you fail.

Now, comparing Wall Street to advisors - advisors know that in order to be successful you have to put in 60+ hour weeks to get off the ground, forget a work life balance, and often postpone families, and when you don't you work through family life.

Sorry. It's pretty obvious why many females choose different paths. Any manager would be an idiot not to hire a woman if she could generate more business, a woman would start a business and hire women, and they would dominate the world according to the above posters. Some do. Many choose a different route. Facts are the market works. Facts are there are just as many studies that actually look at things like how many years women take off to start families that show there is no bias. You should know these things (especially that the market works) as advisors.

by B Smith »

From the woman herself -

 http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2011/09/07/ ... k-gave-up/

Tell me how many women you know that will work 90-hour weeks to keep up with male counterparts with children at home? I know 1 now.

by Bradly T. »

There appears to be two different issues here - general industry gender bias and ivory tower/management glass ceiling - two very different issues. I've managed females and been managed by them too - and known many with the "fire in the belly" who were capable, aggressive, and productive. My feeling is there is no general gender bias in our world (retail securities) - every firm I've worked with has been very focused on both female and minority recruiting with very limited results for over a generation now. So, if a population is not precluded and actually recruited and yet low numbers persist, then what? And why? I agree that the productive approach and perspective tension and team potential of both genders is incredible and highly positive to corporate governance. But it takes generations to dislodge the good ole boy and Ivy League choke hold on business and politics both. We'll all be better off when the market evolves beyond its current state.....as it is and has been since way before the first bra was burned.

And, as B Smith suggests, there are social burdens and choices for females that make this a difficult, if not impossible, career track. Females are not only the primary care givers of our children, they are by far the greatest care giving population for elderly parents and other family members too. While I welcome women into whatever path they choose for themselves, I'm not convinced we (men, husbands, fathers, society) offer any solutions or alternatives to this primary care burden and I'm glad someone has enough compassion and responsibility to provide this critical social service to our population. Women can do far more in business in direct proportion to how much support THEY get in fulfilling these social care giving and home making responsibilities. It's not a question of capabilities but it certainly IS a question of priorities and time availability - socially speaking.

by B Smith »

I just can't believe how many people will state that someone else is holding them back, when the woman here is telling you exactly why she succeeded. Corporate boards have one goal - to make the most money for their shareholders as possible.

There is absolutely no plausible reason they would hire a male over a female. People on boards care about money and not being sued. They are going to pick the candidate that is most qualified to make them the most amount of money.