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Wall Street’s Glass Ceiling: Tips For Breaking Through

Day-Trading HousewivesSucceeding in business isn’t simply about running a small company or snagging a big client or retailer. Rather, particularly for women, success has more to do with access to the tools and power of entrepreneurship, and one of the key parts of the access question centers on funds: who has them, how did they get them, and how are they used?

One answer to this question is that men disproportionately control the capital used to fuel business success, and that those funds and the strategies for obtaining them are either retained as a sole resource of the individual or shared primarily with other men. It’s just another space in which the glass ceiling limits our success. Finding points of access to these resources, then, is vital if we hope to break through that glass ceiling and meet men on equal footing in the business world.

A Radical Approach To Resources

This form of knowledge restriction in which only successful business people have access to knowledge is what millionaire day trader and investment instructor Tim Sykes condemns in a line out of sync with his industry. In an interview with Secret Entourage, Sykes explains that “if you’re very successful at trading or investing, you don’t tell anybody how. You do it for yourself. You do it for a few wealthy elite.”

As a teacher, Sykes has refused to stick to this model. He continues to share the methods that helped him attain millionaire status at the age of 22. Similarly, the rare women who broke into the market early, such as Julie Harris of Goldman Sachs, offer a similar vision.

For Harris, the lack of female role models in the industry meant “I had to be that senior role model. You have to learn that the way you carry yourself matters, and you can’t lose sight of who you are in the process.” For women, maintaining an attitude of strength and confidence can be the difference between success and failure in a male dominated industry.

Beating The Stereotypes

In addition to a lack of role models, women face specific, harmful stereotypes when trying to make headway on the stock market. First, there’s the general old boys club nature of the market and the associated conservative attitudes that block women’s entrance. Pair this mentality on the part of male traders with the long hours that limit family time, and you end up with an environment that’s explicitly hostile for women.

In fact, women have to face discriminatory statements, like those made by hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, who has outright stated that women shouldn’t trade stocks, in part because children destroy our focus. Most aren’t this forthrightly sexist in their analysis, but many will withhold information and training from women, believing the entire sex to be incapable or accomplished trading.

What It Really Takes

Ultimately, anyone can learn to trade, but it takes intuition and a great teacher – as well as an awareness that not all trading looks the same. Tim Sykes, who explicitly trains others to be as successful in the market as he’s been, is known as that guy who trades in his pajamas from home. There’s no reason women can’t do the same, or alternatively, why we might not trade while running a successful independent business.

As in any other industry, what it takes to make it in the stock market is determination, education, research, and the confidence to take smart risks. And as more women carve out opportunities as traders, we would be wise to work together in mentoring relationships and supportive groups to show a strong face to the more sexist forces in the industry.


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