Note: This post was excerpted from an article written by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa for the New York Times. Click here to access the full article. Photo courtesy of Wellsphere.com.
Why is Wall Street so slow to promote women? Is that a reflection of U.S. society in general or is there a peculiarity to the Wall Street experience?
“The Wall Street culture is characterized by what you might call really macho kinds of behavior,” said Ilene H. Lang, Catalyst’s president and chief executive. “So what’s looked up to on Wall Street are people who swagger, people who will do the deal at any cost, people who will work day and night, hour and hour, for lots and lots of money and they don’t care about anything else.”
“Those are characteristics that you think about when asked to talk about what the Wall Street culture is,” she said in an interview. “That’s a very masculine, macho culture, again a stereotype, and, in general, it’s very hard for women or men to picture women being that way because that conflicts with the stereotypic norms of what women should be like.”
Ms. Lang, a trailblazer in the high-tech and Internet industries who has headed Catalyst for nine years and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard, continued, “Women who behave in those macho ways are then perceived as being very masculine, and that’s considered very unattractive. While men are aggressive, women are labeled with the ‘B word.’ It is behavior that’s admired in men but despised in women.”