By now you've probably already heard the sound bites. Last week, Paul Tudor Jones, a hedge fund billionaire, appeared all over the national media regarding his comments to an audience at the University of Virginia about what happens to women "macro traders" once they have children. Apparently, in his vast experience with women traders (which involves working with two women turned mothers in the 1970's), once motherhood hits, women are worthless at trading.
"You will never see as many investors or traders as men, period, end of story . . . . As soon as that baby's lips touch that girl's bosom, forget it . . . . Every single investment idea . . . . every desire to understand what is going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience."
Quotes taken from here and here.
To be fair, Mr. Jones acknowledged that men could also have such lapses, such as during a divorce. In fact, he says that one can "automatically subtract 10 to 20% from any manager if he is going through a divorce." (Quote taken from here).
So basically, if you're looking for a macro trader, avoid someone who is going through a divorce. And avoid all women with children. And maybe even avoid Paul Tudor Jones himself. Given the public relations disaster he has been enduring for the past week, I'm betting he's lost some focus himself.
Look, I almost feel sorry for the guy. He was just being honest. He is saying what many people think, and in a way, that's refreshing. I know when I went part time at my former law firm, there were a handful of partners that thought it was ridiculous, and didn't want to approve it. They didn't want to deal with a woman with a kid who only came in half of the week. And you know what? If they said so, it would have cleared the air a bit. Just lay it on the table.
So here's a guy that's being honest (though he didn't know the cameras were rolling). Saying what many people think. That once women have kids, their careers are over. They lose focus. They lose productivity. They lose ambition. And in some ways, he's right. Yeah, when we women are sleep deprived and nursing and recovering from giving birth to a child, we do at times lose that focus.
But guess what - once that phase is over, much like a divorce, we are capable of being normal, functioning people again.
Let me go out on a limb here, and say that the reason there are so many more men than women in macro trading is not because women procreate and lose all intelligence and focus once a baby touches their bosom. Instead, perhaps it's because the schedule of a macro trader doesn't support the type of balance that many mothers want. Perhaps it's because of the sexist attitudes of their colleagues, such as Paul Tudor Jones.
Maybe, instead of giving up on moms altogether, we can try to change things up a bit to support them reentering their career. Maybe we can give them a generous maternity leave to allow them time to recover and regain their focus. Maybe we can come up with flexible working arrangements so they can work less than the 60 hours per week required of many macro traders. Maybe we can provide them with mentors and support and a tad bit of empathy.
After all, research has shown that overall, women are better traders than men.
A lot of us are smart cookies, you know? It's worth it to keep us around, Mr. Jones.