Ruth Marcus: Upending the macho dynamic

BY RUTH MARCUS Modified: June 12, 2013 at 7:29 am •  Published: June 12, 2013
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Is the gender glass half-full or half-empty? The governor clearly believes working mothers launched the decline of the American educational system. But he also understood that he was entering treacherous territory in expressing this view. Perhaps fear of backlash is the first step toward enlightenment.

Not for Paul Tudor Jones. “You will never see as many great women investors or traders as men — period, end of story,” the billionaire hedge fund manager told an audience at the University of Virginia business school. “And the reason why is not because they are not capable. They are very capable.”

But, Jones insisted, the intense focus required of a top-tier trader is fundamentally inconsistent with motherhood, citing the experience of two “girls” who began with him at E.F. Hutton in the late 1970s.

“Within four years … they both got married and … they both had children,” Jones said in a video obtained by The Washington Post. “And as soon as that baby’s lips touch that girl’s bosom, forget it. Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what’s going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience. … And I’ve just seen it happen over and over.”

Even Jones, in a statement, felt the need to clarify that his remarks applied only “with regard to global macro traders, who are on call 24/7.”

If Jones makes you want to tear your hair out, read the letter that former Washington Post restaurant critic Phyllis Richman received when she applied to Harvard’s urban planning school in 1961.

How, a professor queried, would she manage to “combine a professional life in city planning with your responsibilities to your husband and a possible future family?”

No one would write that letter today. The picture isn’t perfect, in the White House or the country. Still, It is much improved.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP