Speaking at a symposium at the University of Virginia last month, hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones suggested that having babies kills a woman's focus, rendering her unable to succeed in the trading industry.
According to the Washington Post, Tudor said that "as soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it . . . every single investment idea . . . every desire to understand what is going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience . . . which a man will never share, about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby."
In a statement to the Post, Tudor later tried to mitigate his words by calling them "off the cuff" and pointing out that he's encouraged his three daughters to enter the industry and that anyone, man or woman, can achieve the greatest success in anything they set "heart and mind" to. The Post also notes that the dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, where the symposium was held, asked that no one record the session and remarked that "We must prohibit any discussion or description of the event in print or video, through electronic media or through Internet-based technologies including Web sites, blogs or social media, such as Twitter or Facebook."
A 2012 piece in Time called Ina Drew, a JP Morgan Chase executive one of the most skilled female traders on Wall Street. Her resignation as part of a trading loss scandal was blamed on an industry "which remains remarkably inhospitable to women" where "trading in particular remains a testosterone-fueled subculture, one that could use a considered and ongoing rejiggering of the gender balance."
Commentators on Twitter are seemingly united in their condemnation of Tudor's words:
More on Paul Tudor Jones' theory of mammary gland determinismftalphaville.ft.com/2013/05/23/151…— Kate Mackenzie (@kmac) May 23, 2013
I forgot the part where Robin Hood stopped trusting Maid Marion's archery skills because she got had a kid #PaulTudorJones— danprimack (@danprimack) May 23, 2013
Paul Tudor Jones on why there's so few women traders:wapo.st/11hZ2lC <what century are we in now!?>— Kira Brecht (@KiraBrecht) May 24, 2013
Tudor's comments fly in the face of a century of progressive moves in women's rights, not to mention a long list of hugely successful women in business. Marissa Mayer, for example, recently assumed command of Internet giant Yahoo while pregnant (of course, this also sparked its own debate).
But what's your take on this? The comments section is open to you.
[Image: Flickr user Andy Beez]