Trump effect bolsters the bros of Wall Street
Women fear election dialogue will widen male-female divide in the workplace, survey finds
The snickering and the “nasty woman” jokes that echo across trading floors when Hillary Clinton appears on TV. The mansplaining from the boss on how locker-room talk really is just locker-room talk, so get over it.
It’s never been easy to be a woman on Wall Street. But for many, this polarizing U.S. election season has pulled at old wounds — and in some cases opened new ones — as the political vitriol has spilled into the workplace.
Republicans and Democrats alike say the candidacies of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have prompted a new level of soul-searching about the bro culture of American finance. And whoever wins next Tuesday, the questions aren’t going away.
Interviews conducted with more than a dozen women across the Wall Street spectrum — from as young as 28 to as old as 66 and representing all types of firms big and small — paint a complex portrait of how this election is shaping workplace conversations and behaviour in the industry.
Many older women in senior roles shrug and say at least things are better than they used to be. (Some basic facts underscore that point: Women now make up almost half of the workforce in the financial industry, harassment training has become standard and numerous firms have started women-empowerment initiatives.) Many younger women working their way up, though, say the divisiveness has made it blindingly clear there’s still a long way to go.
They’re bothered by the uptick in edgy banter they’ve detected from their male colleagues as Trump advanced in the campaign. And they wonder how they’ll advance in their own careers if their co-workers question Clinton’s fitness for the presidency because she’s a woman.
For those trying to make it into senior management, the scrutiny of Clinton’s likability is particularly unsettling. The per cent of women in these Wall Street jobs falls to 26 per cent; at the very top, the number slides further, to just 15 per cent, according to consulting firm Mercer.
Yet some worry this election will only widen the male-female divide on Wall Street. Maureen Sherry, a former managing director at Bear Stearns Cos., said the long-term effect may be that men on Wall Street will further cut female colleagues out of meetings and after-hour events for fear of offending them.
“Men may feel like, in a social situation with the women they work with, they can’t let their hair down any longer,” said Sherry, author of Opening Belle, a novel about women on Wall Street. “I think it’ll be more isolating for women.”
As Donald Trump advanced in the campaign, Wall Street women became bothered by the bro talk they detected from their male colleagues.