Women traders taking on the city

 

It is no secret that trading is a male dominated industry in the city of London. According to statistics, the percentage of women in trading jobs is as low as 30 per cent.
Women traders taking on the city
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This could be as a result of a number of factors which are inherent in the workplace. There could be a certain stigma that it is difficult to fit into a male dominated environment.

In this article, we will go over some of the misconceptions there are about trading and the ways in which these misconceptions can be overcome. We will also run through some hints and tips that could help women as they prepare for trading interviews.

The misconceptions

One of the most common misconceptions of trading is that the workplace is filled with testosterone, screaming and numerous sexist comments. When most people think of trading floors they picture large open pits where the loudest prevails.

Many of the movies on the subject have not helped to dispel those misconceptions. Movies like the Wolf of Wall Street and the big short have fed this feeling of machoism.

This is far removed from reality. Today, most modern trading floors at large financial institutions have very strict workplace guidelines when it comes to interaction among colleagues and language.

They also have detailed sexual harassment policies that make sure that female traders can feel welcome in the workplace even though it is mostly male dominated.

Women can and should comfortable working on a trading floor without the fear of any sort of untoward comments or the possibility of feeling left out from general office conversations.

Another common misconception that women have when it comes to trading is that there are only certain types of university degrees which apply to trading jobs. They think that only mathematicians or finance majors are able to succeed in the trading world.

This is not true. Although some types of trading and quantitative analysis do require a background in a technical STEM major, the vast number of trading jobs require an understanding of basic math as well as a willingness to learn.

In fact, a number of trading jobs are more about practicality than theory. Many trading floors require some retraining and they find that people who have not got a background in trading can be more malleable. This is where some women can indeed stand out.

How to get a trading interview

Although trading is now a career path that is more open for women, they still have to prepare themselves for the industry by making numerous applications as well as making the most of trading education.

There are a number of online portals that have the latest information on financial service jobs in the industry. These also have up to date resources that can be used in interview preparation.

Of course, having an up to date CV with your latest qualifications is essential, but one of the most important things to have before you start applying for trading jobs is a motivational letter.

This is where you can take the opportunity to let the recruiters or HR know why you, as a strong and motivated woman, are interested in working on a trading floor. Perhaps you can include a section in the letter of how you would like to break the misconceptions of women in trading that we talked about above.

How to succeed in the interview

If you are lucky enough to get an interview, then your time has really come to shine. You need to make sure that you have all of the finer details of your CV and motivational letter ironed out. You are most likely to get questions on these so you will need to have your answers stacked up. These are, after all, answers that you can prepare for.

There are also a range of other stock questions that you can prepare for and most of these fall under the guise of "motivational" questions. When it comes to the more technical trading related questions, then you need to take the time to study the online portals and understand the basics of the job.

These could take a number of different forms and could be brain teasers, judgement questions or more general in nature. The most important thing to do in this case is to know when to admit that you don’t know something. Equally important however, is attempting to answer the question by clearly stating your assumptions.

For example, you may get a question on equity pairs trading of two companies. You may not know what the companies do but you have a fair idea of what a pairs trade involves from the research that you did. You could then admit to the researcher that you have never heard of the particular companies. You could ask them for more of an overview so that you could most easily answer the question.

This is where most new interviewees get tripped up. They think that admitting that they don't know the answer to a question entirely is a sign of weakness. It is quite the opposite in fact. New traders are encouraged to speak out if they do not know something. This is because being cavalier about not knowing something is a sure way to lose a lot of money on the trading floor.

Trading also requires someone to be calm under pressure. Hence, it is important to make sure that you appear calm and collected and don't get flustered when you are asked the questions. Perhaps practicing the interview beforehand can help calm your nerves prior.

Conclusion

It can always be daunting to make strides in an industry that is usually dominated by the opposite sex. Hence, trading has often been a challenging career path to embark for women new to the industry.

However, as we have shown, this is merely a fallacy and is indeed driven by a range of societal misconceptions. Not only are there successful female traders but they are often some of the best in the industry.

As with any other field in life, where male dominance once prevailed, it required strong and independent women to challenge the norm and break through certain stereotypes. Trading floors have become so much more female friendly that they are now a place for women to make massive strides.