Shakira sang about she wolves in the closet, which might as well have been a reference to the absence of popular media portrayals of the She Wolves of Wall Street.
In reality and on-screen, Wall Street has been a boy’s club. Not only are women less represented, but they are also less remunerated. Citi, one of the world’s largest banks, reported in 2019 that its female employees earn 29 percent less than its male employees globally.
But women are wresting the wads away from the dominant grasp in some surprising ways, including starting their own investing clubs and creating new enterprises during the pandemic. While portrayals of women in finance have been scarce, the tide is certainly changing, with more women asserting their seat at the table at this previous boys’ bastion. In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are some bankable portrayals of women and money.
Capital in the 21st Century
”We have a mythology that what’s good for Wall Street is good for Main Street, but that’s really never been true,” says Rana Foroohar, associate editor of the Financial Times, in this documentary take on Thomas Piketty’s book. Foroohar’s recently released book, “Don’t Be Evil: The Case Against Big Tech,” is a searing indictment of the extent to which tech behemoths are monetizing our data. Watch on Netflix.
This is an episode of the Netflix series “Dirty Money” about Fahmi Quadir, a woman dubbed the “femme fatale of short trading.” A brilliant short seller who left a PhD program in algebraic mathematics for a career on Wall Street, she takes on drug behemoth Valeant – and wins. With the recent GameStop kerfuffle that has shorted short sellers as predatory, Quadir is a testament to a different kind of a short seller: one who looks to identify corporate malfeasance and reap the rewards. When she says, “I do my work in the shadows,” she is referring to the fact that short selling involves sleuthing and hours of poring over quarterly earnings reports. In other words, you won’t find the kind of information Quadir unearths readily available and even less so revealed by the companies themselves. Short selling is especially male-dominated, so this documentary on a world known by very few is illuminating. She notes, “All short sellers are outsiders, and women are especially outsiders in this world.” Watch on Netflix.
This corporate thriller follows Naomi Bishop, an investment banker working on the IPO launch of a Silicon Valley company. While taut and engaging, it is also a very sophisticated exploration of the power dynamics on Wall Street between and among genders. One of the most memorable lines from the movie is Naomi’s deadpan, “I like money.” Taking a Wall Street opening bell hammer to the groan-inducing gold digger trope, director Meera Mennon portrays women as enjoying the competition, chaos and hard work of their careers while also enjoying the perks (hello, enviable power wardrobe). And while Naomi’s character has been a caretaker for those around her, she reminds us, “Don’t let money be a dirty word. We can like that, too.” Find ways to watch here.
Making a Killing
Known for her book “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” journalist and contributing editor for Vanity Fair Bethany McLean takes issues you may think you understand and complicates them, featuring clever titles like “Keynes was wrong. Gen Z will have it worse” in her podcast “Making a Killing.” Listen on all major podcast platforms.
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