Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another one bites the dust

For the second time in a few months, Wall Street has lost its top woman. In June it was Erin Callan of Lehman Brothers, before her it was Zoe Cruz of Morgan Stanley. Today, it's Sallie Krawcheck of Citi.

The NYT's Dealbook blog reports:

"While there are tens of thousands of layoffs on Wall Street, there is no data that indicates women are being let go in greater numbers than men. But legal and academic experts say sharp downturns are particularly pernicious: they ratchet up internal politics, reduce the pool of female candidates vying for top jobs, and eliminate potential female role models in leadership positions.
Lauren Rich Fine, who left her job as a research analyst at Merrill Lynch last year to teach at Kent State University, says she thinks that downturns on Wall Street are particularly harsh for women. 'Whoever is comfortable with each other survives,' she told The Times, 'so that women, who have only been in the top ranks for a short time are very vulnerable.'"
The loss of women at the top is a blow, for several reasons. The first is that because there are so few of them to begin with, the loss of just one thins their numbers considerably. The other reason is that women like Cruz, Callan and Krawcheck, who made it to the top in a traditionally and still largely male-dominated industry, served as role models and mentors for women in the pipeline who hope to one day do the same.
If you can't see anyone who looks like you in a corner office, it's hard to imagine being up there yourself. If you can't see people who look like you staying in the corner office, but instead see them being pushed out of it every few months, there's an even slighter chance that you'll want to try to get there yourself. And no matter how badly you want it, without mentors who have faced challenges similar to the ones you'll face to help guide on your way up, the climb looks nearly impossible.


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