I’m already in trouble now aren’t I? It should be “female traders” right? Perhaps “women traders?” Or maybe it is just “non-male gender traders.” Hey, what do I know, I’m just a dumb guy.
In my life I am surrounded by a lot of great women; there’s my wife, daughter, God-daughter, mother, sister, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, as well as a plethora of aunts, nieces, cousins, and just plain friends.
And even though I love them all to death, I would be lying if I said I totally understood them, and they would probably say the same thing about me.
Traditionally though, the one area that I haven’t seemed to run into as many women, is when it comes to trading. Its been this way as far back as I can recall. I even remember reading the Market Wizards books back in the late 80′s and thinking it was strange that Linda Bradford Rashcke was the only female interviewed.
I have often wondered if the reason for a lack of female traders had something to do with the innate differences between men and women.
Despite a lot of the pseudo-sociological theories that have been pushed in the last 40 years trying to show that men and women are the same, the fact is that they just aren’t. Men and women are (or should be) equal in terms of rights, opportunities, and importance, but they are not (and should not try to be) the same.
How big the differences between the sexes are has always been a hot debate. A few years back there was a best-selling book called “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” that tried to expound on that subject. Personally I would never read a book like that, because from the title it assumes that men and women are actually from the same galaxy.
It’s these differences between men and women however that make each gender special. Each has their own strengths and their own weaknesses, and that is why when things are going well between us, we compliment each other.
These intergalactic differences are related mostly to the way in which men and women process information, and thus what each thinks is important when it comes to communicating and understanding issues and ideas.
Let me illustrate this with an example;
A guy leaves on a Thursday night, with six of his buddies, for a bachelor party in Vegas. When he returns on Sunday evening, his wife (or girlfriend) asks him….
“How was the party?”
To which he responds, “Great…..what’s for dinner?”
Now, his wife can go to the mall to do some shopping, run into a friend who she hasn’t seen for a couple of years, have a five-minute conversations with her, and then go home and spend 30 minutes telling her husband about it.
“So I ran into Cindy today, and she is still dating that guy Dave….you remember Dave, he is the one she meet when she was working over at the dress shop that had all those cute displays in the window……….”
Both ways of communicating are equally as valid….but not as far as the other sex is concerned.
The guy in this example is not trying to hide anything that he did in Vegas. No, in fact in his mind he is being precisely truthful and forthcoming.
His “guy mind” is thinking (in a robotic way), “I-am-being-asked-a-question-regarding-the-events-this-weekend-and-I-am-giving-you-the-answer-in-a-direct-and-concise-way.”
This is because guys generally communicate in a very utilitarian and unidirectional way. In this case the information is flowing from him to his wife, and in his mind there is no need for her to be involved in sending information back the other way. Kinda the way a lot of guys view sex.
Women on the other hand view communication as a group activity where there is an ebb and flow of information between the participants. In order to facilitate that process, they go into very deep details, not just about the main concept, but all the ancillary info as well. It is a shared process and once again, not unlike the way women view sex.
Now even though this blog is often about the markets, let me give some “bonus advice” to any of you who are just married, soon to be married, or ever plan on getting married. Trust me, it will save you years of headache when it comes to communicating with each other.
You will thank me later.
When the guy in our example answers the “Vegas question,” he thinks he has answered it completely and is done. His wife on the other hand subconsciously thinks to herself…..”wait a minute, if I went to Vegas for a bachelorette party with my girlfriends, I would be going into great depth about it, not giving a one word answer. I wonder why he is being so short? Maybe I need to try again.”
Thus she continues the questioning with, “so, who ended up going?”
Her husband’s brain now is starting to have some synapse misfires; it’s thinking …“this-is-strange-I-have-already-answered-the-question-in-full-about-the-weekend. Does-not-compute. Does-not-compute. Will-try-again.”
“Just some of the guys,” he responds.
You know where this is going right?
She keeps seeing his short answers as evasive and continues pressing for more information. He keeps seeing her questions as invasive and at some point starts to resent having to continue to respond to questions he thinks he has fully answered. Eventually this process escalates into a full-blown argument and ends up with the husband knocking on the door of one of his buddies from the Vegas trip to see if the couch is available for the night.
The solution is for both sides is to be aware of the differences in communication styles and try to meet halfway; the husband trying to elaborate more, understanding he is not being “accused” of anything, and the wife dialing it back a bit, understanding that his limited answers are not a sign of wrong doing.
So back to the question of female traders. Is it possible that because of the way women process information that the world of trading doesn’t appeal to them? Actually, I would think that opposite would be true.
Women’s hunger for details and the give and take of ideas and information would seem to be a beneficial trait that would be an asset when dealing with both with the markets and with other traders.
The other reason it would seem that more traders should be women is that they much have less ego than men when it comes to financial issues. They don’t measure their worth in terms of money as much as in terms of accomplishments. This is that critical disconnect that allows the most successful poker players and traders to stick to their methodology instead of getting sidetracked by the dollar amounts they are dealing with.
So in the end I don’t think there is any mystery as to why there are not as many women traders as there should be.
Trading has traditionally been a world where you needed to find a mentor in order to have a chance to succeed. That’s usually been hard enough for a male trader to do, let alone a woman trader, who runs the risk of having to deal with all the unwanted sexist crap that often comes with male/female relationships where the male has the position of power.
But thanks for the advent of online trading communities like StockTwits, I think women currently have a much fairer playing field and possibly their best opportunity ever to find mentors and get into trading. And I will tell you a little secret……it’s already starting to happen.
I spend a lot of time DM’ing with traders during the week and you would be amazed at how many of them, after a few months of back and forth conversations have dropped the bomb on me that they are in fact female. I’m not talking about just one or two here or there, but a significant number of ladies, of which some are the most active contributors to the streams.
These women are serious market participants, trading everything from equities, to forex, to options, to futures.
Along those lines, Lydia Idem’s blog FaithMightFX has just been added to the StockTwits Blog Network, which helps add to its female presence that already includes Raghee Horner’s Forex Off The Charts, Kristin Bentz’ The Talented Blonde, The StockTwits Social Web Index Blog, curated by Brittany Pierpoint, and one-third of the trading team at High Chart Patterns Group.
In addition, there are hundreds of active female traders on the streams, and perhaps hundreds more who are hiding behind gender neutral anonymity. Hopefully moving forward more will “come out” on the streams, which will in turn, encourage new women to try their hand at trading, and hopefully as they do, guys will treat them will the respect that they deserve.
And I have to admit, this is personal with me because one day in the future I would like the idea of trading to be as much of an option to my daughter as to my son.
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