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GUEST COMMENT: Sorry, but women can’t trade

As it’s International Women’s Day and everyone’s bemoaning the fact that women don’t have a better deal in life, I’d like to make a brief point: I have tried to employ women as traders; it doesn’t work.

Much as it pains me to say so, the reality seems to be that women can’t trade prop. Show me a woman who’s a competent prop trader. I’ll show you a man in disguise.

I have tried very hard to disprove this theory.

I have hired plenty of women. None of them have ever stuck at it. They all started off in a very conscientious and analytical manner and were very keen, but after two or three months it was all over.


I blame two things: emotion and boredom.

When a woman trades, it doesn’t take long before she becomes emotionally involved in what she’s doing. She loses the discipline that’s needed to make money consistently. She fails to maximise profits and fails to minimise losses.

She also becomes bored. Staring at a screen all day doesn’t seem to offer the mental stimulation that a woman requires. Women need interactivity. In my experience, they’re better at relationship-based trading. When it’s just them and the screen, it doesn’t work.

I wish this wasn’t the case. I wish I didn’t have to be the one to point it out. But someone needs to. This isn’t a qualitative judgement. In this industry, performance is measured very simply in terms of P&L. I have given a lot of female traders a chance. None of them have taken it.

The author is an anonymous (male) prop trader.

Comments (31)

  1. what sort of a trading desk u have .. is it a arcade style prop ? u need really ‘trading crazy’ people to work in that trading styly .. women are generally different sort of crazy .. so nothing surprising .. but there are various styles of trading, so kindly dont group all of them together .. woman seem to perform better in Hedge fund trading ..

  2. Ok this might be a long shot, but I am male so I feel that I at least fill part of your criteria to be a prop trader.

    I am looking to break into the FX/Commodities trading environment and, as you can see, am willing to pursue any avenue to achieve this goal.

    As speculative as this is, I would really appreciate any information you could lend me as to how to break into this industry.

    Many Thanks


  3. .Emotion, not so much. But I can see your point regarding boredom. Very social types will find staring at a screen all day tough, male or female. Unfortunately, society has conditioned women to be social creatures.

  4. The level of intellect of this article is abysmal

    Ask Brenda Earl De Paola if she can’t trade

    Having worked on a prop desk I’ve witnessed the true reality that 98% of male prop traders can’t trade either, i.e they can’t even beat libor rates… Most banks are better off buying a 1 year A rated corporate bond than having prop desks.

  5. Not sure about prop trading, but I agree about “relationship-based” trading (which is very different from sales), I have found a lot of excellent female traders

  6. I have the same view. But I suspect it is because they are more in-tune emotionally.

    Trading needs a certain level of detachment (I am sure there are many female traders out there who are great but I’m speaking generally here) and women simply need to talk about it, or need someone to hold their hand and commiserate when they take losses.

    Men would say : I bought 4s sold 2s took a loss. Tough luck. I’ll make it back in my next trade.

    Women would say : But Bernanke said this, and Trichet said that, Weber is wearing a red tie today, I think they might raise rates. Did I do the dishes? God, I wish my boyfriend made as much money as I lost in my last trade. I think Deirdre Bolton looks like she just walked of a set of Desperate Housewives. Ok what did the analyst said? Everyone is going Long here, I think we should buy on the retracement.

    In otherwords, there are something women do better but I am leaning to the view that genetic/neurological differences contribute to the reason why it is such a male dominated profession. There simply is no place for emotion or empathy.

  7. OMG! I want to puke! Are you such sexists? Seriously?!
    The kind of job you are apt for depends on your personality, education and experience. Not on your sex!

  8. @Boy plunger
    Very funny caricature of a stereotype woman volatile thoughts (ironically more volatile than the stock market where at least there are trends lol). But empathy? are women genetically “favoured” toward empathy? You must be kidding. Have you ever step into an office full of women? i can assure you it is not empathy you ll experience. Rather a battlefield like atmosphere..

    theyMakemelaugh Reply
  9. The attitudes in this article are disgusting.

    The men who make these comments appear to have mistaken a lack of empathy and emotion for being an idiot.

  10. And whilst you wrote this terrible article the female prop trader probs just beat your PnL. LOL.

    I do get the point of boredom though. Thats why prop traders usually are weird creepsters. Put them in a real job where they actually have to interact with clients and they start peeing their pants and run for the hills.

    DerivativeSales Female Reply
  11. The corporate sector, historically, was set up by men and occupied by men until pretty recently so some of the attitudes are entrenched almost on a ‘DNA’ level.

    The writer should’ve provided evidence of numbers that can be checked.

  12. “I have tried to employ women as traders; it doesn’t work.”

    Well may be because you don’t really give a chance and hire competent women but only hot women or the one that looks like models, whereas the trading floor is full of not gorgeous traders…but very competent regarding to you…

    Try to hire girls that have more in their head that in their bras…well may be you are scared that they can be better…

  13. Derivatives Female,
    your main asset as a sales is your power of seduction (e.g. being a bate) on males. Dont bite the hand that feeds you and go back powder that nose of yours before meeting your next male provider..

  14. What a puerile article, no wonder the person writing it wishes to be anonymous. If his experiences prove anything, it is that he is cr*p at recruiting, not that women don’t make good prop traders.

    To extrapolate such a ridiculous argument from the small sample group of his personal experience beggars belief. When you have hired 200 men and 200 women, and you can show there is a statistical significance in the differences of their performances, then you might have the kernel of an argument, but how many women have you hired my friend, probably not more than 5 or 6, maybe as many as 8?

    He says “I wish I didn’t have to be the one to point it out. But someone needs to”!!!! Oh you brave heroic man I say, so then take the credit for being so brave and pointing out this “fact” to us, put your name to it, or is the reason you haven’t because you, like the rest of us, realise what you have written is tripe and you are too ashamed to be publicly associated with it.

    Finally, shame on the editor for this article, you seem to have failed not only as an editor but as a woman, well done, your mum will be proud of you.

    To quote Voltaire, ” Prejudices are what fools use for reason”

  15. If women trade who will do the housework? ironing, washing, cleaning are womens jobs not trading

  16. well this is interesting, but I dare say I suspect you are wrong. Why? because studies show that women make significantly better fund managers than men (on average of course), whereas you provide nothing more than anecdotal evidence for your views. Of course, it may be that women are less able to perform short-term trading jobs (which I, as a fundamentalist, am naturally skeptical about in any event; there are reams of research and data proving fundamental investment works, but I’ve never seen anything showing the same for technical trading), but this seems unlikely.

  17. @theyMakemelaugh

    I was unfortunate (or fortunate for some of you lads) enough to live with 3 women. 1 straight (my partner), 1 gay and 1 bi (a couple). And believe you me, women are vicious, they never forgive nor forget!. All backstabbers.

    Somedays, I come home early and there is like a ‘wee mist’ in the air. Makes my stopout day at work feels like a holiday in Tahiti.

    I would admit that if you suddenly replace all traders in the world with females, there would be less systemic risk. But as prop trading goes, currently a male dominated profession, women are simply not cutting the mustard if they have to compete on equal footing.

    The good thing though at least, I only need to use one indicator and save myself some CQG fees. To hell with the analyst. I only need the 28 day moving average. Support and resistance? Forget that just check if they are wearing flats of heels and measure the average height.
    Fibonnaci retracements will be replaced with hip to waist ratio. Bollinger bands = bust size. Volume vs Open Interest = how many times they got laid last month vs with how many guys. Price action = well let’s not go there ;)

    (ok that may have crossed the line a

  18. Ok let’s get serious. With regards to the OP (original poster) women cannot prop trade due to the nature of the job. Someone mentioned “personality and experience not sex” and I couldn’t agree more. Women in general simply don’t have the personality for it and their life experience do not prepare them for such roles. Successful women prop traders are the exception rather than the rule.

    I am talking about fundemantal genetic neurological differences here. Men are generally better at spatial awareness and activites that require such skills. Women make better carers / nurses for the same reasons. We are genetically hardwired. If you are a chartist or TA, pattern recognition is something men excel at marginally better. There is plenty of academic literature that documents the level of testosterone and the likelihood to take risk. There was even one study specifically that measures testosterone in traders. (I forgot the article name and if anyone knows it please post a reply). Which brings us back to what I conceeded earlier – IF YOU REPLACE ALL MALE TRADERS WITH FEMALES there will be less systemic risk and we may have avoided the crash. Women will make great risk managers.


  19. There have been many studies to understand and dissect the succesful trader in order to replicate his/her result. The overwhelming evidence thusfar seems to point to a set of evidence that there are certain basic skill sets that are more commonly found in the male species than the female. Now having these pre-requesites is by no means a guarentee of success. For the same reason women do not make good SAS soilders or mercenaries, they do not make good prop traders. Those who do are the exception rather than the rule. They’d make good asset managers, good Sales, good risk managers, and maybe even better analysts. But prop trading. NO!.

    Understand this! There are more professional footballers or professional golfers than there are true professional prop traders. It is a highly highly competitive job. And I have a lot of respect for anyone at the top of this profession, man,women, or alien.

    As times change with algo trading taking over true prop trading is a dying art. Ever wonder why there were so little female pit traders?

  20. @Boy plunger
    mate you re very academical here. i disagree on one extrapolation:
    IF YOU REPLACE ALL MALE TRADERS WITH FEMALES, then cosmetics, luxury, furniture stocks, couselling and gold mining will constitute the next bubble.

    theyMakemelaugh Reply
  21. @theyMakemelaugh

    Brace yourself for a sell off once all the feminist read our posts. Lol.

    Most of them who complain about the ‘sexist’ views, obviously have not been on the trading floor to see what it is really like. Ladies, if these kind of banter gets to you, imagine how you’d do when there is an emergency hike in rates. The guy next to you is screaming “sweet jesus holy mary”, the guy in front of you is hanging himself with his tie and the guy behind you is banging his fist on the table like a gorilla, you are losing money faster than you can count and everyone is yelling at you calling you every name in the book and to get out at the best possible price.

    ‘Cosmetics, luxury, furniture stocks, counselling and gold’ sounds kinda good now don’t they?

  22. DouBalls dose of testosteron doesn’t makes a man smarter (for Goldman Baller: as well in bedroom activities).
    In woman there is a WoWman! surely not in every, but it’s not the reason to generalise the world from your personal experience.

  23. @BoyPlunger
    Hey I m a feminist!

    theyMakeMeLaughAllTheTime Reply
  24. @theyMakemeLaughAllTheTime

    Excactly!, didn’t you see the sell off today? ;)

  25. even they r not wired for trading or quanting or…counting.., the good thing is that i have have a good life of laughter ahead of me!
    i can skip the crunches too..they re not totally redundant after all

    theyMakemeLaughAllTheTime Reply
  26. i am a man in disguise – will you hire me?

    btw i find more men to be much easier to work with than women. i do not agree on the empathy and emotion side however i do find men to be more rational and less out to be bitchy and making everything personal.

    i would prefer to hire men for trading and i am a woman.

  27. i cant believe what i have just read here. Have we not yet come out of the dark ages???

    I think you will find the only difference between men and women is that men have assumed arrogance about their ability to do something where as us females have been perpetually put down in society through out time so we have been cultured to think we are not good enough. ( and dont write any posts saying its not true).

    It is a fact that women are better at communicating, working with other and having empathy. But that just makes us BETTER traders and also makes us management potential. What more can you want!??

    So come on people…get out of the dark ages and no longer put down womens capabilities and embrace them please!

  28. maybe if there were more mirrors in the trading rooms then it may improve things

  29. i am interested in equities and fund management. I am an MBA from chennai india and working presently with CO-OPERATIVE GROUP. As i have my own PORTFOLIO in emerging markets which are giving me 300% return and good knowledge global markets as well.

  30. I totally agree ,ive been a trader for 25 years and i can say that i only know of one good female prop trader whos always in the black ,and ive met a few in my time .
    now fund managers i know a few successful female ones ,in sales trading ive known quite a few women who are big big commission earners.
    but ive only known a few thousand traders in my time so what do i know !!

  31. A rolilng stone is worth two in the bush, thanks to this article.

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