18 Nov 2011

Wall Street Women

Posted by Emily Watkevich

Women in business have always had many obstacles to overcome. The issues that corporate women have had to face are some that the feminist movement has been working against since its second wave. Equal pay, discrimination based on sex and the balance of work and family are only some of the issues that corporate America women face today.

Every year executive women meet in New York City to attend the Women on Wall Street conference. This conference is made up of hundreds of intelligent, successful women talking about their lives in the corporate world. The women that attend this conference hold some of the highest positions in the corporate world and have been the basis of many surveys throughout the years. A feminist.org survey reported that 63% of women executive believed that “barriers to women have not fallen at the senior management level” while four out of five women executives say “there are disadvantages to being female in the business world”. These disadvantages make climbing the corporate ladder very difficult for many women.

One issue I have seen echoed in many articles about women in Wall Street is meritocracy. This is a system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement. Ilene H. Lang, chief executive of Catalyst is quoted in 8 Lessons from the Women on Wall Street Conference, saying  that “women are paid for performance” while men are paid for their potential.Louise Roth’s article Selling Women Short writes that “the lack of fit between Wall Street’s workaholic culture and typical family arrangements had negative effects not only on women’s performance but on how they were perceived and thus on evaluations of their performance”.

Women and the feminist movement continue to work toward equality in corporate America. Slowly things have changed and women have been given more opportunities however men still dominate most high profile jobs. The work being done in the feminist world have helped women to gain more lucrative positions while many companies are realizing the importance of having women in leadership positions.


Roose, Kevin “8 Lessons From the Women on Wall Street Conference” October 20,2011 dealbook.nytimes.com

Spade, Joan and Catherine Valentine “Selling Women Short” The Kaleidoscope of Gender (2011): 366-373


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