Gossip, rumor-mongering, and catty behavior know no gender
I chose a career in finance for a number of reasons. I liked the classes in college, I wanted a challenging career, I wanted to make money. However, more than anything, I was interested in pursuing a career that was not filled with women. This fact is surprising to many; however, those that know me know that after growing up with five sisters and attending an all-female Catholic high school, I was ready to leave the drama of cattiness, gossip, hormones and cliques behind. Before I started working, I glorified the world of finance as being removed from drama. After all, I argued to myself that the lack of estrogen was bound to make for a smoother work environment.
It took about two weeks on the trading floor of a large investment bank for me to come to the realization that men gossip as much as any woman I know.
Typically after a big deal closed, many would leave the office early to celebrate over a few beers, and since I wanted to bond with my new co-workers, I joined them for a few that led to many. The evening took a turn for the bizarre when the group ended up at a strip club, and I had no ride home. Thankfully, one of the guys from the floor offered to drive me. Unfortunately, when he drove me home, he offered other things, but took my rejection like a gentleman.
As I crawled into bed in the wee hours of the morning, I said a prayer of thanks that I worked with men and would not be judged the next day in the office. A few minutes after I took my seat on the floor, a teammate asked me to step off the desk for a conversation, and he shared with me the word that had spread around the floor about the evening before. I stared at this friend in shock that word had traveled that fast--in a matter of minutes, since most people arrived at 6:00, and it was now 6:30 in the morning.
Fortunately for me, my evening chauffeur did not make up stories and told the truth--in fact, he shared the full story, including my rejection of him. From that moment on, I began to view my male co-workers in a completely different light. For the better part of my life, I had always assumed that women were gossipers and that men could not be bothered with sharing stories. However, I realized quickly that men are just as bad--if not worse--than women when it comes to the gossip department.
I would love to say that I learned my lesson about partying with co-workers after that first incident. However, there were numerous other times that I walked into work the next morning to a buzz about the happenings of the night before. Finally, after a male co-worker shared some intimate knowledge of a female teammate, I realized that I needed to find more friends outside of work.
Women typically gossip in small groups of one or two close friends, and usually stick with one person or one topic of conversation. From my experience, men seem to gossip in large groups, around broad subject matter. I have sat on a trading desk and heard men gossip about everything from outfits that women wear to rumored hook-ups of co-workers from a decade before--and the more outrageous the story, the longer it seems to be discussed across the desk. Even after I left the trading floor and worked for a smaller hedge fund, I found out that it was the men in the group who spread information more than the women.
Looking back on my 14 years in the finance world, I feel that I have heard and witnessed more gossip spread from men rather than women. Perhaps it's just because women are better at keeping gossip low-key--and I know that, working in finance, my perspective is skewed since the majority of financial service professionals are male. However, I have not heard gossip stories from other industries that rival mine.
I may be wrong in my assumption that men gossip more than women. However, until someone convinces me otherwise, I will keep my friends close and watch out for the men if I misbehave or have a few too many.