Does Wall Street Need More Women?

Investor and philanthropist Jacki Zehner knows a thing or two about money.

In 1996, she became a Goldman Sachs partner - the youngest woman at the time to do so.

Now, retired after a 14-year Wall Street career, she's on a mission, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace.

"If there had been a critical mass of women over a period of time at the decision-making tables, would we be in the place that we are in today? I don't think so," Zehner said.

The economic meltdown might not have been as severe, she says, if more women were in the executive suites on Wall Street.

Quoting a post-meltdown refrain: if instead of Lehman Brothers, it were Lehman Brothers and Sisters.

"I think we think about risk differently," Zehner said. "I think we are more risk measured. We're saying look at the numbers, look at the evidence."

The evidence: a recent report showed that while all hedge funds had an annual return of almost 6 percent, hedge funds run by women did better with a return of 9 percent.

And during the downturn last year, while all funds dropped 19 percent, funds run by women went down just below 10 percent.

"Women tend to collaborate, they tend to pool information together in ways, different from the way men operate," said Linda Basch of the National Council for Research on Women.

In fact, scientific studies have found that men take more risks in response to peer pressure than women and that there's a direct link between increased testosterone and a willingness to take risks. And that is not always good.

"When they get into tough situations, their testosterone rises and they do become more competitive and less aware of risk," Basch said.

That's why at Pax World Mutual Funds, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, three of the firm's six portfolio managers are women.

"I do think that when women are at the table, there's a richer discussion on issues like risk and that you make better decisions because of their input," said Joe Keefe, president and CEO of Pax World.

"It's not just the right thing to do anymore just because it's the right thing," Zehner said. "It's the right business thing to do."

Zehner hopes that more companies realize more women equals more money.


  • Kelly Wallace

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