Re: Why are women underrepresented in hedge funds and private equity?

Question: Why are women underrepresented in hedge funds and private equity?

Thomas Cooley:  You're absolutely right.  I mean, if you look at-- just to give you a few markers.  If you look at the number of women on boards of directors of the Fortune 500 companies, I think it's like 14 percent, something like that.  If you look at the number of Fortune 500 companies that have more than three women on the executive committee, it's, I think it's 100 companies have more than three women.  And so, in general, if you look at businesses like investment banking or finance, women are very much underrepresented there.  And if you look across most business schools, in, I think that average across all business schools is under 30 percent women.  Our school happens to be unusual in that we have, and have for a long time, the largest percentage of women in our MBA programs, over 40 percent.  And, but it's certainly true that in business as a whole, women are underrepresented, whereas in medicine and law and other professions, they're increasingly evident.  And if you look at women's success in school, at every level of education, the average performance of women is better than the average performance of men.  But what's also true is that the variability of men's performance is greater.  So I think of that as the, you know, more genius nerds and frat boys as opposed to steady performers phenomena.  But what that means is that by the time you get to graduation, it's close to 60 percent women who are graduating from colleges and universities.  So women are dominant there, but not in the world of business.  So there's the big puzzle. 

Question: Why the drop?

Thomas Cooley:  I believe that some of it is biology, that women take time out to bear children and that that interferes with the career track.  I also believe that some of it represents unexploited opportunity for the world of business.  We have these incredibly talented, well-educated part of our population who are going into other professions, but not into business.  There's something wrong.  It seems to me that there's money being left on the table.  And it may be being left there because we don't find the right ways to assimilate women.  But I'm also a big believer that, you know, there are lots of books written about how women need to change to be able to compete in the world of men.  And I actually think that that's kind of backwards, that really, men need to change and the world of business needs to change to be more accommodating to women.  I think it's probably true that a lot of businesses don't, are not well adapted to the particular needs of women.  But I also think it's true that a lot of men don't understand how to-- they don't understand women in the workplace and what their needs and, just what their different social characteristics are.  So rather than needing women who behave more like men, I think we need men who understand that women don't behave the same as men, necessarily, in the work place.

Question: What short-term measures can lure women into business?

Thomas Cooley:  One of the things that it turns out is, a lot of women who take time out of the workforce to bear children and possibly to raise them for a while don't necessarily don't want to go back into that world.  They want to go back into a world where they have more independence and control.  So, you know, a successful woman who's had a career on Wall Street, been on the trading desk, been successful by all the norms that Wall Street applies, takes time out and then realizes, you know, maybe there's more to life than just this.  So that's part of the issue.  I mean, are there things that we can do?  I don't exactly know.  But I think that finding pathways, finding ways for women to transition back into the workforce after taking time out is one of the things that a lot of companies are doing.  I think that would help a lot.  Another issue is just sheer numbers.  I mean, I think that, that when women have strong networks of support that it makes a difference.  I think numbers makes a big difference.  And it tends to change the character of the workplace.  But how we get from where we are now to there, I don't know the answer to that.  We're trying; we're producing lots of well-trained, brilliant, young MBA women. 

Recorded: 3/21/08

Men need to adapt to the needs of women in the workplace.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

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Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

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Kosovo land swap could end conflict - or restart war

Best case: redrawing borders leads to peace, prosperity and EU membership. But there's also a worst case

Image: SRF
Strange Maps
  • The Yugoslav Wars started in 1991, but never really ended
  • Kosovo and Serbia are still enemies, and they're getting worse
  • A proposed land swap could create peace - or reignite the conflict

The death of Old Yugoslavia

Image: public domain

United Yugoslavia on a CIA map from 1990.

Wars are harder to finish than to start. Take for instance the Yugoslav Wars, which raged through most of the 1990s.

The first shot was fired at 2.30 pm on June 27th, 1991, when an officer in the Yugoslav People's Army took aim at Slovenian separatists. When the YPA retreated on July 7th, Slovenia was the first of Yugoslavia's republics to have won its independence.

After the wars

Image: Ijanderson977, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Map of former Yugoslavia in 2008, when Kosovo declared its independence. The geopolitical situation remains the same today.

The Ten-Day War cost less than 100 casualties. The other wars – in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo (1) – lasted much longer and were a lot bloodier. By early 1999, when NATO had forced Serbia to concede defeat in Kosovo, close to 140,000 people had been killed and four million civilians displaced.

So when was the last shot fired? Perhaps it wasn't: it's debatable whether the Yugoslav Wars are actually over. That's because Kosovo is a special case. Although inhabited by an overwhelming ethnic-Albanian majority, Serbians are historically very attached to it. More importantly, from a legalistic point of view: Kosovo was never a separate republic within Yugoslavia but rather a (nominally) autonomous province within Serbia.

Kosovo divides the world

Image: public domain

In red: states that recognise the independence of Kosovo (most EU member states – with the notable exceptions of Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia; and the U.S., Japan, Turkey and Egypt, among many others). In blue: states that recognise Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo (most notably Russia and China, but also other major countries such as India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Iran).

The government of Serbia has made its peace and established diplomatic relations with all other former Yugoslav countries, but not with Kosovo. In Serbian eyes, Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008 was a unilateral and therefore legally invalid change of state borders. Belgrade officially still considers Kosovo a 'renegade province', and it actually has a lot of international support for that position (2).

The irony is that on the longer term, both Kosovo and Serbia want the same thing: EU membership. Ironically, that wish could lead to Yugoslav reunification some years down the road – within the EU. Slovenia and Croatia have already joined, and all other ex-Yugoslav states would like to follow their example. Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have already submitted an official application. The EU considers Bosnia and Kosovo 'potential candidates'.

Kosovo is the main stumbling block on Serbia's road to EU membership. Even after the end of hostilities, skirmishes continued, between the ethnically Albanian majority and the ethnically Serbian minority within Kosovo, and vice versa in Serbian territories directly adjacent. Tensions are dormant at best. A renewed outbreak of armed conflict is not unthinkable.

Land for peace?

Image: BBC

Mitrovica isn't the only area majority-Serb area in Kosovo, but the others are enclaved and fear being abandoned in a land swap.

In fact, relations between Kosovo and Serbia have deteriorated spectacularly in the past few months. At the end of November, Kosovo was refused membership of Interpol, mainly on the insistence of Serbia. In retaliation, Kosovo imposed a 100% tariff on all imports from Serbia. After which Serbia's prime minister Ana Brnabic refused to exclude her country's "option" to intervene militarily in Kosovo. Upon which Kosovo's government decided to start setting up its own army – despite its prohibition to do so as one of the conditions of its continued NATO-protected independence.

The protracted death of Yugoslavia will be over only when this conflict is finally resolved. The best way to do that, politicians on both sides have suggested, is for the borders reflect the ethnic makeup of the frontier between Kosovo and Serbia.

The biggest and most obvious pieces of the puzzle are the Serbian-majority district of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, and the Albanian-majority Presevo Valley, in southwestern Serbia. That land swap was suggested previous summer by Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic, presidents of Kosovo and Serbia respectively. Best-case scenario: that would eliminate the main obstacle to mutual recognition, joint EU membership and future prosperity.

If others can do it...

Image: Ruland Kolen

Belgium and the Netherlands recently adjusted out their common border to conform to the straightened Meuse River.

Sceptics and not a few locals warn that there also is a worst-case scenario: the swap could rekindle animosities and restart the war. A deal along those lines would almost certainly exclude six Serbian-majority municipalities enclaved deep within Kosovo. While Serbian Mitrovica, which borders Serbia proper, is home to some 40,000 inhabitants, those enclaves represent a further 80,000 ethnic Serbs – who fear being totally abandoned in a land swap, and eventually forced out of their homes.

Western powers, which sponsored Kosovar independence, are divided over the plan. U.S. officials back the idea, as do some within the EU. But the Germans are against – they are concerned about the plan's potential to fire up regional tensions rather than eliminate them.

In principle, countries consider their borders inviolate and unchanging, but land swaps are not unheard of. Quite recently, Belgium and the Netherlands exchanged territories so their joint border would again match up with the straightened course of the Meuse river (3). But those bits of land were tiny, and uninhabited. And as the past has amply shown, borders carry a lot more weight in the Balkans.

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Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
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  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
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