Bosom-gate: Jones in doghouse for UVA remarks
Last summer, the tanned and outspoken hedge fund billionaire and UVA alum Paul Tudor Jones caused a stir by penning an op/ed supporting UVA Rector Helen Dragas' attempt to oust UVA President Teresa Sullivan, a failed coup that knowledgeable sources say he may have even helped orchestrate. In April, Jones was at it again, making remarks at a UVA symposium that appear to have offended women everywhere.
Indeed, after the Washington Post filed a Freedom of Information Act request to view a UVA video of the event, a symposium sponsored by UVA's McIntire School of Commerce titled “Investing in Markets, Society and Ourselves: Views from Investment Masters,” the media attention became so intense that Jones had to walk back his comments. What's more, the symposium was co-sponsored by the Contemplative Sciences Center, for which Jones donated $12 million to create.
"Much of my adult life has been spent fighting for equal opportunity and the idea that I would support limiting opportunity for any segment of society, particularly women, is antithetical to who I am and what I have done." said Jones, 58, in a release. " My remarks offended, and I am sorry."
Near the end of the April 26 symposium at the UVA's McIntire School of Commerce, someone in the audience asked why there wasn't much diversity on the panel, noting in particular the absence of women. Jones responded by saying that having children prevented women from succeeding in the investment world because the demands of being a mother killed the intense focus needed to be a sharp trader, specifically a global macro trader, who uses the latest technology and makes high-frequency trades.
“As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it,” Jones said, to chuckles from the audience and nervous shifting about from fellow panelists as he described how two women traders he knew in the late 1970s lost their edge after having children.
"I’ve just seen it happen over and over," he said.
In the video, Jones appears to have recognized his misstep pretty quickly, and tries to add some clarity to his comments. He mentions that he had said some of the same things to a group of women in the hedge fund field, but he finally seems to realize that there is no use backpedaling.
“I’ve probably said too much and gotten myself in trouble,” Jones said.
Indeed, as UVA professor of marketing David Mick, one of the panelists at the symposium, told the Hook on May 30, "I personally felt that Mr. Jones' perspective and his specific words were inappropriate." However, he added, "Jones has subsequently apologized, in a sincere manner I believe."
And Mick wasn't the only UVA professor disturbed by Jones comments. The day before, 80 UVA professors signed a letter, first obtained by the Post, asking UVA to officially respond, saying they found Jones' comments "regarding the deleterious effect of children on working mothers to be false and injurious." UVA provost John Simon, another major player in the events of last summer, responded in much the same way that Mick did, saying Jones' comments were "of his own volition; he was not speaking on behalf of UVA, and he has since issued a public apology.”
That apparently isn't enough for some UVA professors. As the Post reported, a professor who spoke on the condition of anonymity, afraid for their career, accused UVA officials of being "afraid to speak out" because they didn't want to upset a big donor. Denise Walsh, an associate professor in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and Women, Gender & Sexuality, told the Post that the university is missing its chance to "make a public statement underscoring its commitment to women’s advancement in all career fields."
Ironically, McIntire Dean Carl P. Zeithaml, who also played a part in the events of last summer by accepting and then rejecting the post of interim UVA president during the crisis, asked the audience not to record the event, as he wanted to encourage the speakers to be candid. Incidentally, moderating the event was Jeffery Walker, a founder of J.P. Morgan Partners, and the inspiration for Rector Dragas' focus on online education during last year's failed coup.
“No quotes with attribution should leave the room,” Zeithaml said. “We must prohibit any discussion or description of the event in print or video, through electronic media or through Internet-based technologies including websites, blogs or social media, such as Twitter or Facebook.”
Of course, you'd think that anyone involved in the events of last summer would realize that actively trying to keep information from leaking out is practically like asking for it to be leaked.
Jones' remarks prompted scathing comments from women business leaders, including an op-ed from political writer Susan Milligan in U.S. News & World Report titled, "Wall Street’s Misogyny on Display."
"There's no excuse for Jones' comments, which he initially defended as 'off the cuff,'" writes Milligan. "All that phrase means is that he was saying exactly what he was thinking without first editing it for public relations purposes. His apology was weak, sounded insincere and is likely to dog him for some time. He should be careful about that— it might make it hard for him to focus."
Milligan sets aside Jones' "antiquated and slightly creepy description of motherhood" and points out that fathers are just as strongly affected by the birth of a child and the burdens that come with sleepless nights, constant feedings, and exhausted wives. She also accuses him of gender-bias.
"What if a woman were to say men shouldn't be traders because they are too easily distracted by the sight of female bodies in the office and therefore can't 'focus'?" asks Milligan.
Finally, she says that Jones and other male traders might want to take a hard look in the mirror, as they presided over the 2008 stock-market meltdown.
"If men hold the vast majority of the high-level jobs in trading, and are more able to focus than women, then how did such a disaster occur?" she writes. "What's their excuse?"
In the video, it's pretty clear that Jones was trying to say that life events like divorce, death, and childbirth can derail a career in the fast-paced world of global macro-trading, but his flippant use of the word "bosom" and description of childbirth as a "killer" of focus may have revealed a general bias in a financial world mostly dominated by men.
As famous female macro trader Renée Haugerud, 58, mentioned in the New York Post, there have been many studies over the years showing that women outperform men at trading, but women are not given access to big money because of perceptions like those of Jones.
One such study by behavioral economists Terrence Odean and Brad Barber, aptly titled "Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment," finds that women are actually better traders than men. Overconfidence in men, the study determined, led to counterproductivity over time, as men tended to trade more often than women.
“It’s disappointing,” ex-hedge fund manager Pamela Lawrence told the New York Post, “There are many smart, hard-working female investment professionals who are just not given the opportunity. What’s wrong with the whole process?”
Updated June 3, 2013, 11:00am
Paul Tudor Jones' April 26 remarks at the University of VirginiaRead more on: paul tudor jones