Sat Mar 18, 2017, 09:02 AM

A punishing double standard for women on Wall Street

Wall Street firms have been called out for bias against women, with some critics pointing to the financial industry’s male-heavy ranks and gender pay gap as evidence of sexism.

That may only be the half of it. Women in finance are suffering on another front: unequal punishment for workplace missteps, with men let off more lightly for the same misdeeds, according to new research from Stanford University finance professor Amit Seru and two co-authors. Even though men in the financial industry are more than twice as likely to engage in misconduct, women are 20 percent more likely to be fired, they found.

Financial firms with mostly male leaders are also more likely to inflict severe punishment on women who have erred and are less likely to hire women with blemishes on their record. The findings suggest male executives are more likely to overlook misbehavior on the part of other men, perhaps viewing it as a “boys will be boys” situation.

While the punishments involve financial misconduct, the double standard also raises questions about whether women may be judged more harshly when it comes to other behaviors, Seru said.

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