Gender Regimes in Finance: The Social Organization of Money Work
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Andrew S. London
Finance, Gender, Work
Informed by intersectional theory and gendered organizational studies, this dissertation uses qualitative interviews with 35 money workers to analyze gender inequality in the financial services industry. Within this field, I examine how local workplace practices and broader economic trends produce gendered performances and organize the money work that is performed by financial services employees. Specifically, I compare the labor processes and organizational practices at large wire houses versus small and independent firms and explore how the "gender regime" is built into the social organization of money work. The research focuses on answering the following questions: (1) How is a "gender regime" built into the social organization of money work at large wire houses versus small and independent firms? (2) What type of work culture is valued at large wire houses versus small and independent firms and how are gendered performances produced by the demands of the local workplace context? (3) In what ways is the "Great Recession" impacting the gendered performances of financial services workers and the social organization of money work? My findings demonstrate that the organizational practices of large wire houses are more detrimental to woman working in the field. Specifically, the compensation structure, gender discretion and bias by senior male employees, and the organization of partnerships at these firms contribute to the gender wage gap and are advantageous to men working at these organizations. While I could find no industry-wide statistics to demonstrate that small and independent firms have more gender equality, based on my findings, it appears that the small and independent firms are less likely to have labor processes that explicitly disadvantage women. My findings also demonstrate that the type of organization (large wire house versus small and independent firms) impacts the overall work culture and impacts the type of gender performance that is produced. At large wire houses, workers refer to the atmosphere as a "boy's club," that views men as naturally better equipped to be financial advisors. These organizations construct a competent advisor as one who performs in ways that are aligned with traditional constructions of masculinity. However, small and independent firms demonstrate that there are alternative ways to do money work. Workers describe a culture that is more egalitarian. To be viewed as a competent advisor at a smaller firm, advisors are expected to "build relationships with clients" and "give good advice." Competence is not constructed in masculine terms; therefore, gendered performances for workers are more flexible. Findings also suggest that the "Great Recession" is impacting the social organization of gender at financial services firms. In particular, the economic downturn is contributing to increased pressure to conform to transnational business masculinities at large wire houses as well as encouraging emphasized femininity at small and independent firms. Global capitalism and the economic retraction is contributing to what Acker (2006) describes as the "inequality regime." While women advisors are disadvantaged relative to men, particularly at large wire houses, my results also indicate that the recession perpetuates inequality between female money workers. As job insecurity and the demands of the work have increased, women in advisory and management positions are outsourcing their labor, particularly their domestic and administrative work, to other women in order to succeed. This research contributes to our understandings about how gender inequality is produced in the finance industry, particularly at large wire houses. In addition, it explicates the ways gender is constituted by both the local workplace context and larger economic retraction.
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Bahns, Megan, "Gender Regimes in Finance: The Social Organization of Money Work" (2013). Sociology - Dissertations. 74.