Sally Krawcheck: Is it a Woman Thing?

From Conde Nast Portfolio:

Citigroup’s Sallie Krawcheck, one of the highest-profile women on Wall Street, will step down, according to the Wall Street Journal. She heads Citigroup’s wealth-management unit, which is being moved into the bank’s institutional group as a part of a broad restructuring.

Krawcheck was recruited by former chief executive Sandy Weill in 2002 to run the Smith Barney business. She rose to become the bank’s chief financial officer for three years until 2007, when she was moved to the head of Citi’s wealth-management business as part of an overhaul of the bank’s top ranks.

This is just the latest in a string of senior-ranking female departures on Wall Street. Last November, Zoe Cruz was asked to resign from her post as co-president of Morgan Stanley after the department she oversaw made a series of disastrous subprime trades.

And then in June, Lehman fired its chief financial officer Erin Callan after investors raised questions about the bank’s financial statements. Lehman’s bankruptcy filing early last week is seen by some as vindication for Callan.

Journalist Megan Barnett wisely points out that while investment banks recently fired several high-ranking women, the fact remains that there aren’t many investment banks left, either.

Does Krawcheck’s layoff mean anything for the women’s movement? Does it mean anything at all?

Looking at this from a women’s interest perspective, the moral of the story is that Wall Street will fire executives when in a pinch, whether they’re female or not. The message to women is that they, too, can become Mistresses of the Universe. Victory! Except that women, too, can be fired at the turn of the market. Darn.

There’s so much contradictory news circulating through the Internet today that I can’t make sense of what women’s interest means anymore:

1) Men with egalitarian attitudes about the role of women in society earn significantly less on average than men who hold more traditional views about women’s place in the world, according to a study being reported today. (Washington Post)

Moral: Empirical evidence has shown that men who know their place, and a woman’s place, make more money.

Message: Real men make more money than sissy-boys. Feminist egalitarianism victimizes men. Here’s the math to prove it.

2) A quote from Norla, a small-town American woman, on voting for Sarah Palin: “…if not [Palin], it’s just the old-boys network again.” Palin’s small-town credentials appeal to Norla, although she has questions about Palin’s experience. “But what the heck? A lot of people didn’t have experience before they got in, and she’s got a lot of good common sense.” (Salon)

Moral: This small-town woman thinks Palin, by virtue of being a woman, cannot possibly also be part of the old boys’ network. Gender matters more than experience or connections.

Message: You’re pro-woman if you vote for a woman. Any woman. Regardless of whether you agree with her viewpoints or not.

3) (Republican pollster Kellyanne) Conway said more women will vote than men this fall – as has happened in every presidential election since 1964 – and will be a deciding factor. Less than two months ago, Mr. McCain was trailing Mr. Obama significantly among women, and “now they are now pretty much neck and neck.” (Dallas Morning News)

Moral: Women have the power to sway the elections.

Question: Are you more pro-woman if you vote for a woman, in the flesh, or a man whom you believe stands for women more than the actual woman?

I don’t understand where women stand anymore. ’70s-style feminism is clearly defined in my mind, but it’s been a long time since then. What do women want most these days? Symbolic strength? A voice from a sister? Traditional roles?


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