I'm beginning to feel quite grateful to hedge-fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, who explained at a symposium at the University of Virginia's McIntyre School of Commerce back in April that women will never rival men as traders because babies are a "focus killer." Speaking about one of his own previous associates, he added, to illustrate his point, "As soon as that baby's lips touched that girl's bosom, forget it."
My immediate reaction, which I am confident in saying many women shared, was disgust. The crudeness of his language tells so many women and likeminded men that we have not come nearly as far as we like to think we have. Yet as my sons and husband would quickly point out, I've been in plenty of conversations with women where someone makes the comment that men are led by a part of their anatomy other than their brains. Indeed, Cersei in Game of Thrones says exactly that to her brother Tyrion before she brings in a woman she is holding captive whom she believes is his prostitute.
So it cannot just be crude language and sexist assumptions that make Tudor Jones's comments so problematic. It is crude language and sexist assumptions by a man who is at the pinnacle of what remains a deeply male power structure: the financial industry. Women are barely represented at the top of hedge funds, private equity, investment banks, though those institutions are enormously powerful in U.S. and global society. Yet when asked by an audience member, "Please reflect on the makeup of the panel—rich, white middle age men who were mentored by the same—and what it takes for someone different to have a seat at the table and finally share their voices from a powerful place," Tudor Jones responded, essentially, that only women who do not choose to have babies will make it.