It’s a known fact that finance is a male-dominated industry. There’s Buffett, and Soros, and Madoff, and the banker on Deal or No Deal: all men. In the sausagefest of finance, the only female presence is the wife, the mistress, or the diversity-hire (who, even if she is competent, will be forever tarnished by the suggestion of affirmative action).
Of course, this goes beyond finance — there are far more male CEOs, politicians, movie producers, and leaders not only in the United States, but in the rest of the world. There are no women in the Forbes 50 richest Americans who made her money outside of inheritance. Even though women make up half of the world’s population, most of the power is held by men.
Social scientists have long theorized about the existing power gap between men and women. Some explanations are cultural. Some are steered in tradition. And some resort to “biological differences.” That is, women build consensus; men build tall buildings to showcase their phallic power.
My theory is simple: it’s partly biological, and partly environmental.
I believe that men are more powerful because they pee standing up.
Think about it. From a very young age, men are trained to pee into a urinal. They are brought up in a world with literally no walls: there is very little privacy between them. And if you head into a stall, everyone knows what kind of business is going on. The result? Reduced inhibitions from a world with no boundaries, and greater camaraderie with your fellow man.
Meanwhile, there are metaphoric and physical walls that separate women from each other. The physical act of releasing waste is incredibly private. Outside of her feet, you don’t tend to see other women in the act of peeing. I even cringe when I write “releasing waste” — because unlike men, most women don’t feel as comfortable talking about these things. At least not with strangers.
So, from this theory, men are more comfortable in their own skin, more sociable with strangers, and more likely to take risks. Women are walled in, siloed, and discomfited by others knowing all of their business. It’s no wonder why men enjoy finance: they’re used to whipping ’em out and measuring ’em, whereas women don’t/can’t really do that.
Of course, like any good theory, there are its notable exceptions. I’m guessing that Oprah would have no qualms about peeing in front of other women. And there are incredibly awkward yet successful men who don’t fit the mold. In 2006, I got rejected by then-college-president Larry Summers when I asked if I could “lei” him at a campus BBQ/luau — I was holding a lei of flowers… He just turned around and walked away.
Doesn’t seem like a guy who’s comfortable in his own skin… Perhaps some of these things, we simply have to blame on inherent biological differences.