Interesting article on Wall Street financier Chris Flowers features this quote.

Flowers may appear nerdy, but he has a quirky charm. And his low-wattage exterior belies a steely determination, whether at the chessboard or in the ongoing battles among Wall Street alpha males, that has served him well. He may not be outgoing, but he’s the sort of person a top executive can feel comfortable trusting. “I like someone who is 24/7, always reachable, keeps their cool, thinks through problems carefully and as a partner,” says James B. Lee Jr., a vice chairman at J.P. Morgan Chase who has worked with Flowers in myriad capacities and whose company is a limited partner in his funds. “He’s a very, very good and natural partner.”

1) This is another example of Lee ’75 sucking up to a past (and future) client. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

2) A phrase like “Wall Street alpha males” will go unremarked in an article like this. How will our grandchildren read that?

3) Why is the male:female ratio among the finance elite at least 10:1 and more like 25:1 or even 100:1? Excellent question. At least one reason is the “24/7, always reachable” portion of Lee’s quote. Success in finance, especially at a place like Goldman, requires exactly that. Are you the sort of person who might not want to be reachable 24 hours a day, who might want to visit your daughter’s class, go on her field trips or coach her soccer team? Good luck with that if you want to climb the greasy pole at Goldman. Women or more likely than men, I think, to make sensible choices with regard to those trade-offs, so they are much less likely to make it to the top.

What explanations would readers give to the puzzle of female underrepresentation in elite finance?

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