Goldman Sachs: 'a Frat on Steroids'

Marie Myung-Ok Lee recalls her time at the firm

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 26, 2012 1:11 PM CST

(Newser) – Goldman Sachs recently released its list of the year's promotions, and women make up just 14% of new lifetime partners. In the Atlantic, Marie Myung-Ok Lee writes of her time as an editor at the firm in the '90s, and notes that it was a lot like the experience described by three women whose gender discrimination case against Goldman is currently winding its way through the court system. Among some of the stories Lee shares about the company, which she calls "a giant man-cave" and which her friends dubbed "a frat on steroids":

  • In one office, memos announcing new female associates featured semi-nude pictures from Playboy in place of the women's corporate headshots. When Lee complained, she was called "humorless."
  • Male analysts judged the "hotness" of female junior analysts daily. Lee once overheard a male analyst bragging to a female junior analyst about having "sex in the stacks" at Yale.
  • An analyst once started flossing his teeth in Lee's office and got upset when she asked him to stop. She was then rebuked for not being "submissive" enough.
  • "It was widely thought that it was a professional responsibility for women to wear heels, the higher the better."
  • A female analyst was once asked to shave her "shapely legs" in front of a crowd; she did, "even zipping a credit card against her bare skin to demonstrate the lack of stubble when she was done."
Lee was particularly baffled by the women who took to this culture "enthusiastically," including one "first in, last out" type who never took vacations, worked through her bout with breast cancer, wore "painful four-inch heels every day"—and was never made partner. Lee ultimately left, of course: "The place was just too soul-killing for me." Click for her full piece.

In a March 15, 2012 file photo a trader works in the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
In a March 15, 2012 file photo a trader works in the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
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