Maureen Sherry, a former employee at The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc., recently released a thinly fictionalized book entitled Opening Belle. The book, based on Sherry’s eleven years of experience, describes what it’s like to be a female trader in a male-dominated profession. The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc, is a New York based global investment bank and securities trading and brokerage firm that folded during the global financial crisis in 2008 and was then sold to JPMorgan Chase.
Upon her resignation as a female trader at the company, Sherry says the legal department offered a party, a check, and a nondisclosure agreement. Sherry refused the bribe and decided to write a tell-all book documenting the harassment she experienced instead. When writing the book, Sherry interviewed young female traders currently working on Wall Street today. Turns out, their experiences weren’t that much different from her own.
Women on Wall Street often struggle with an internal conflict; the mere thing that contributes to their wealth also comes with a cost, receiving abuse from their male colleagues and superiors. There is a certain toughness that women are encouraged to have if they want to make it in the finance world. They accept the notion that if they can’t survive a little workplace hazing, then they aren’t strong, team players. It doesn’t help that most people who work on Wall Street have to sign a U4 which basically states that any grievances will be settled by the firm itself. This document is really just a line of defense against inevitable sexual harassment claims.
Here are some examples of lewd behavior/workplace hazing that Sherry mentions in her book:
- A woman sees her breasts drawn on her resume.
- A male trader moos at a lactating female colleague.
- Male colleagues tape torn panties to a female colleague’s screen when she returns from her honeymoon.
- Male colleagues receive blow jobs in front of staff.
- A female receives sexually explicit texts from her superior.
- Male cohorts bet how much baby weight a pregnant colleague will gain.
- A female colleague is demoted when she comes back from maternity leave.
- A female colleague is demoted after reporting sexual assault.
- Less productive and hardworking male traders are paid twice as much as their female cohorts.
When is Wall Street going to shape up and understand the modern worn environment?
*image by Unsplash
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