Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wall Street Goes With Family As Well As Combat Goes With Family

There is an excellent article in the New York Times, Jenny Anderson's "Wall Street's Women Face a Fork in the Road," about the huge difficulties facing women who want the top investment jobs and kids. The story is upbeat, dwelling both on the determination of the women and the formal programs at some top firms to attract women, and especially to integrate returning moms. But the overall picture is pretty grim.

The investment business is organized now to run all the time, and its top performers, especially the young and hungry ones who want to rise, are at the office, on the road, and/or on the phone all the time. They stick with a deal until it is done. They are a can-do crew.

Investment bankers and brokers live like soldiers in combat.

Soldiers in combat cannot care for children.

The difference is that soldiers have families and support networks at home to care for their children when they are in combat. And combat is not supposed to last forever for any given soldier, even if the war itself is endless. Almost no one can stand a life of continuous combat, kids or no kids. The ones who do either have no life outside of combat, or have families that essentially run on their own, which they visit from time to time. Almost no mothers, and not that many fathers, can stand to live that way for decades at a time.


Stuart Gordon said...

I'm working with church members right now to consider such issues. There seems to be a gathering momentum to reject workaholism. I'm encouraged that Wall Street banks are actually admitting that things need to change. Parents and children will greatly benefit from a little cooperation on the work side, instead of resistance.

Gruntled said...

There are not many jobs quite as bad as Wall Street for the machismo of workaholism.

Quotidian Grace said...

Lawyers in the nation's big firms are just as bad for the "machismo of workaholism". I know because I'm married to one! That's why I didn't continue my own legal career--you cannot raise a family and have a life if both spouses are committed to that lifestyle.

I don't regret my choice, mind you!

Gruntled said...

Yes, the other moms in the firms my wife interviewed in coming out of law school convinced her that she didn't want to even start that kind of life, either. This was public-interest law's gain.