• C++ Programming for Financial Engineering
    Highly recommended by thousands of MFE students. Covers essential C++ topics with applications to financial engineering. Learn more Join!
    Python for Finance with Intro to Data Science
    Gain practical understanding of Python to read, understand, and write professional Python code for your first day on the job. Learn more Join!
    An Intuition-Based Options Primer for FE
    Ideal for entry level positions interviews and graduate studies, specializing in options trading arbitrage and options valuation models. Learn more Join!

Why aren't there a lot of girls pursuing a MFE degree?

I was invited to a client dinner but just found out that this will likely culminate with bottle service at a strip club and a table full of escorts, do I go?

Ahahahaha.... if _I_ got invited to a client meeting and it was destined to end up in a strip club packed with hookers, _I_ would feel uncomfortable... my terrible gender affliction aside ;)

Could I also offer a slight counter question, in regards to interviewing with a woman while wearing a skirt. Do you think that fellow women are inclined to be more judgemental of you, and any suspected attempts to use your femininity?

I knew guys who chose nursing at university... and their choice of career was met with much laughter and teasing, from men and women both. My own original study choice (multimedia/IT) was a massive step away from the farming/mining/sit-at-home-on-Benefits options typical of my small country home town, and so was questioned somewhat. So the gender stereotyping and questioning of adventure isn't all going the one way :P

Finally, if you do know some female quants, could you possibly chase them up yourself and contribute the interviews to the forum. Andy is probably already busy, and you are obviously passionate (and have peaked my interest in this topic), so their experiences and feedback might make an interesting read.
 
Ahahahaha.... if _I_ got invited to a client meeting and it was destined to end up in a strip club packed with hookers, _I_ would feel uncomfortable... my terrible gender affliction aside ;)

You have obviously never had the pleasure of being a patron at Robert's Steak House. ;)

*Caveat: my background was in equity sales, which I hear is a completely different beast.

Could I also offer a slight counter question, in regards to interviewing with a woman while wearing a skirt. Do you think that fellow women are inclined to be more judgemental of you, and any suspected attempts to use your femininity?

Absolutely! And here begins the great dichotomy.

It might as well be a game of rock, paper, scissors.

If you wear pants and the interviewer wears pants, no problem
If you wear a skirt and the interviewer wears a skirt, no problem

If you wear a skirt and the interviewer wears pants, ???
If you wear pants and the interviewer wears a skirt, ???

On the one hand a skirt may show conformity or the ability to use your femininity. On the other it may show submission.

Some women value conformity, some value submission. Some shun one, or both. Some don't care either way.

Female-to-female dynamics in a male dominated field is a rather strange animal.

And you thought it was tough deciding between black and navy blue!

I knew guys who chose nursing at university... and their choice of career was met with much laughter and teasing, from men and women both. My own original study choice (multimedia/IT) was a massive step away from the farming/mining/sit-at-home-on-Benefits options typical of my small country home town, and so was questioned somewhat. So the gender stereotyping and questioning of adventure isn't all going the one way :p

Which is pretty much the point I was making all along. Men make excellent nurses and the pay-to-quality of life is outstanding... But it's an unconventional route that tends to be frowned upon, even moreso than the girl next door enrolling in an engineering degree and on the first day of class looking to her left and right and realizing shes the only girl in her class and isn't heavy enough to lower the drafting table :cool:

There is a support and mentoring framework that I find to be severely lacking
Finally, if you do know some female quants, could you possibly chase them up yourself and contribute the interviews to the forum. Andy is probably already busy, and you are obviously passionate (and have peaked my interest in this topic), so their experiences and feedback might make an interesting read.

As soon as I find some willing, absolutely.
 
Honestly, maybe women just aren't that interested in these types of fields. Why are there more women in teaching and nursing? Maybe women are more predisposed to being in careers that involve caring and empathy vs. abstract analytics?

If a woman wants to be in the sciences she can basically write her own ticket and schools will be falling all over themselves to admit her. Having a diversified student body is extremely important for schools. A woman interested in an MFE is almost a unicorn lol.

Also, this lack of female presence in mathematics is entirely American. I see tons of Chinese, Indian and Russian women in technical fields and studies.
 
Also, this lack of female presence in mathematics is entirely American. I see tons of Chinese, Indian and Russian women in technical fields and studies.

I have to disagree. Once I came across the statistics for those countries mentioned and you can freely say that Chinese, Indians and Russians have more mathematician women than Americans but the proportion is stuck there too (as in US). It is not surprising when in 1.3 billion Chinese there are more scientist women than 260mln Americans.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
To me, the most interesting issue is the drop out rate between MFE and actually working in banks.
I have yet to identify the factors that lead women to spend serious money and a year/18months studying then go and do something else. My problem is of course that the lost girls never come near me so I can't ask them.

There are definitely fewer women in quant type jobs than in what we at P&D call "feeder subjects", but what factors cause this ?

The only factor that I'm confident about is due to the programming element of quant work.

Far more girls are actively hostile to computers than men, and regard a job where you have to use one most of every day with a horror comparable to a career in table dancing. My mission statement as a headhunter is that it is not my job to tell people what to want, merely to help them get it, so when a girl or boy emits that sentiment I don't try to convince them otherwise, and simply flag them as 'worthless' on our database.
They are behaving rationally, since if you hate computers as much as many girls I talk to, you simply cannot function in this environment, and you won't do well enough to make much money, so you'll be poor and unhappy. Also you have to talk to people who like computers, which causes a reaction in some girls quite similar to that of having the biology of diarrhoea explained with videos and samples.

(After I wrote this, I realised that far more girls are happy dealing with gross intestinal malfunctions than talking to people who like computers. Witness the ratio of girls who like talking to programmers to those who work as nurses).

A small % is down to the interview process, since although banks expressly tell me that that they want more female candidates, they are not tolerant enough of the way they act in interviews. The 5 most spectacularly strange things done by candidates were all done by women, which given their low % of our DB is a strong signal.

Another way to get the "useless" flag set on our database is to express the opinion that you don't like "male dominated" environments.
Tough shit dear, they are, live with it or leave.
I would admire the ambition of creating a "female dominated" environment because it would be so very hard, and I admire people who try to do difficult things, but wimping out is not the same thing at all.

I really don't admire people who can't cope with people who "aren't like us" whatever "like" functional you are applying.
I see it as equivalent to saying "I can't work in an environment with foreign people", or whatever subset to humanity you find distasteful. That's not a moral position, I'm a headhunter I don't have a moral position, I see people who can't cope with differentness as weak.

I do however believe this is a fixable issue, and not even all that very hard to fix, although I'm not going to do it myself because I can't possibly make money out of it. (OK I do have a moral position, it's greed)

Firstly, girls need better information. They seem more vulnerable to the nonsense emitted by the media about careers and the input of their bimbo peers. That means getting them before they take the MFEs so that the wrong women don't choose to take the course and more of the right ones do.
MFEs should not admit any girl who can't program C++ to the level of templates. This is a wholly unnecessary level of programming skill at the start, but it will filter out girls who will drop out anyway. If you have the average female hatred of computers then no matter how smart you are, or how much you want money from banks you can't get to templates. The ones left may not actually like programming, but at least they have proved they will not vomit too frequently whilst doing it .

The media has told girls that they have better social skills, and they need to be disabused of that demented notion so that they can interview at a bank without being seen as too weird to employ. I have no taste or style whatever, at a charity bash last Xmas Vivienne Westwood offered to take me as a pro bono case (though later she upped the price to $10K) , so when you've reached the point that you need fashion advice from me, you are in real trouble, and I I never ever thought that would happen, people who know me in the real world are reduced to tears of laughter that in our careers guide I wrote the female dress code for interviews.
 
I would be curious to hear what those 5 things are as well :)

@DominiConnor, while at first blush I was a little put off by the theme of your post, on re-read I find myself without a strong enough argument to challenge it... (hats off!)

Coming from the flipside of things and having spent nearly my entire adult life in a male dominated quantitative field (and not being able to relate to "most" women on any topic of relevance outside of the former) does tend to leave you with a skewed perspective of things.

To your merit, in the years I spent as a 3D CAD designer I met only one other female designer - she lasted less than a year and was incompetant at best. In my Wall Street Career (on the fundamental side of things, both buy and sell-side) I've only come across a handful of women with non-administrative titles. That said, my ability to whip up some VBA code on the fly quickly led to a god-like status by both men and women alike - this may, in fact, be due to an industry-wide knee-jerk reaction to computers? It really does take a special breed.

In any event, it is safe to say my sample selection is myopic.

Regarding the male dominated environment, again, I can only speak to my personal experiences and those of the two (!!) industry women I've grown close to over the years; I do not know what it is like to be a male on a trading floor any more than the guy next to me knows what it is like to be female. Further, again, having only worked in male-dominated environments brings with it a certain tolerance as well as a quirky perspective of what constitutes "normal working behavior". Do I still get a bug up my ass and snap back when out of line stereotypes, uninvited advances or recitations of the last nights triumps what-the-hell-she-must-be-on-her-period comments are cast in my general direction, sure. And in response I'll fling back the comment a few posts above "suck it up". A more pressing issue for myself (and I imagine women in this field as a whole) is that there is no modus operandi on how women are to interact and engage in such environments and simply going with the "herd mentality" flow can have disastrous consequences. (I'll give you a hint, social cues are not my forte)

What I would be most interested is to hear you experiences with those women who both were and weren't successful in this field and if there were any significant trends that you've noticed - specifically, which area of quant have they gravitated to any why.

Speaking to my computer skills I can comfortably say that I am on par with the stronger programmers in my cohort but I am an engineer through-and-through and a hack at best - given enough time (a resonable amount, anyhow) and an internet connection I can brute force my way through about anything. It won't be pretty but it will work. Obviously I shy away from the developer roles.

What I have found most intriguing for myself is that I am also shying away from the algo positions and finding a surprising interest in risk and structured finance for their perceived stability (well, the former anyhow). This not for my lack of interest or ability trading, quite the contrary. In an environment that I expect to be fully automated over the next 20 years (and likely much sooner than that) I forsee another industry with a big exodus shift on the horizon. While one should constantly be upgrading their skills there reaches a point where the incline required to survive and tangible and transferrable skills (or lack thereof) that you have at the end of things becomes obscene. I know that I'm good but am unsure that Im THAT good - by this I mean good enough to play with (or be accepted by) the big boys. And if I'm not, as much as I enjoyed it at the time, the thought of going back to screen trading envokes a vision of diarrhoea spewing from both ends. After two distinct careers, spanning 3 industries that have crashed and burned, I am finding a Darwinian element weighing on me. I will be the first to wave the white flag admitting defeat. I am tired of fighting.

Would be curious to hear your take on this (as well as any other tips you may wish to share), either here or offline.
 
All in all, different gender have different attitude to everything. It's clear why there are vast majority of men in military, business, finance, etc.
 
Well, perhaps the most successful female quant is Leda Braga, who has a Ph.D. in engineering from Imperial College London and is president of multi-billion dollar hedge fund BlueCrest.

http://www.michaelcovel.com/2009/10/30/top-female-trend-follower-leda-braga-of-bluecrest/
http://www.iimagazine.com/Popups/PrintArticle.aspx?ArticleID=2282306
http://blogs.reuters.com/fundshub/2010/06/17/know-your-hedgie/

It would certainly be interesting to gain her perspective, if anyone could get her to discuss the issues raised above...
 

SYau

Ting Ting
Top