November 28th, 2007 | 8:05 am

Why Do Girls Hate Algorithms?

by Nicki Gilmour, filed under Next Level

The Glass Hammer team is attending the Futures Industry Association (FIA) conference in Chicago this week.

Only an estimated 20% of the total attendees at the FIA annual conference are women. So why are women so underrepresented in this field? And why is it that the women in derivatives trading mostly work on the business side not on the modelling or analytical side?

Dinka Krstulovich, owner of the executive search firm Martingale International Search comments that the MBA degree just isn’t giving people the preparation they need to become experts in quantitative analysis (known as a quant to people in the field). “To be a quant you need to have strong mathematical background and problem solving skills. Business side people are not quants, they can be in sales and marketing. They can even be the CEO, not they are not quants.”

There are only few schools that even offer a Ph.D. program in Financial Mathematics, including aCarnegie Mellon, Imperial College, London and Boston University.

Most of the Ph.D. students at the top schools in the United States spend years studying complex mathematical theories and algorithms while working on their dissertations in order to prepare themselves for jobs in the quantitative analysis field. It is a long and arduous route to obtain the necessary qualifications to work in this specialized field, and the application process is very competitive as well.

Dinka further explains,“of course there are Master’s programs that can help and teach you a lot and help to get there. It is still as good as having a Ph.D. in science. It always depends on your diligence and ambitions to get where you want to be.” Dinka also noted that Columbia University had some excellent courses on quantitative analysis, for those looking to pursue this field in the New York area.

So, once the women have the skills, will they have the desire to work in the quant business?

Carol Burke, a former general counsel at the Chicago Board of Trade commented in an article last year in the Tribune that “relocating the action out of the trading pits where the tallest, broadest, loudest person can have an advantage and into offices may help attract more women. A more cerebral and intentional environment.”

Will more women migrate to the industry if they are recruited?

We will address this issue more in coming weeks and provide some insight from experts on how to pursue a job in quantitative analysis.

In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more, check out Emanuel Derman’s autobiography, “My Life as a Quant” where author explains, “quantitative finance is in essence a multidisciplinary enterprise. To be efficient you must learn finance, mathematics and programming.”

If you are keen to hone your quant skills, check out this course by 7City that has been recommended to The Glass Hammer as a faster way to get there.

Good luck!

1 comment

  1. How to Improve Your Odds of Getting a Quant Job: Tips from an Expert » The Glass Hammer

    [...] and how to help women break into this mostly male-dominated field. For a background, take a look at “Why Do Girls Hate Algorithms?” and “Breaking the “Quant Jock” Stereotype.” To continue this series, I interviewed a friend [...]