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Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Laddism and the City
Join the City and see the world. Or at least the inside of a bar.

As perks of the job go, having to attend parties where the booze flows freely is a pretty good one.

Laddism and the City go hand in hand and women who work in the Square Mile can find competitive drinking, strip joints and indecent proposals all part of a days work.

Former City worker Julie Bower has just won a sex discrimination case against Schroder Securities while Isabelle Terrillon settled out of court with Japanese bank Nomura, amid allegations of sex discrimination.

Dancing dwarves

One London-based female market reporter attended an oil industry function in Rotterdam.

Held twice a year, traders, brokers and journalists get together to network. Of the 150 people gathered there, only about 15 are women.

The networking begins in a pub at lunchtime and much heavy drinking and several crude Norwegian drinking songs later, some of the assembled throng decided to go to a strip club.

The remaining 40 or so persuaded the female journalist and some of her colleagues to attend a different club.

In the Baya Beach Club in Rotterdam, male and female staff and clientele were wearing bikinis and briefs.

At the other side of the large dance floor was a podium.

To the sound of blaring eighties music, about ten bikini and brief wearing dwarves were dancing a routine.

"It was quite funny," she admitted, adding. "I didn't stay very long, I left on my own quite fast in a taxi."

Wanna be in my gang

Those who did leave early or wanted to pause during the all-day drinking sessions were subjected to serious teasing.

You are the sweetest thing in the sugar market

Trader to woman reporter
"You had to be part of the gang. They took networking really seriously. They see it as seriously affecting their profits," she said.

Pressurised group drinking can be part and parcel of working in the City and opting out for either men or women isn't really an option.

Many women working in the City also say they are touched up by both colleagues, contacts or competitors at such events, and think objecting could be bad for business.

Aside from corporate statements about equal opportunities, there are few working in the City who pay any lip service to the notion of equality in the workplace.

One city trader confessed over a few drinks that one of his colleagues had been sacked because she hadn't maintained the glamorous appearance she had presented at the job interview.

Another former foreign exchange trader told one of his colleagues he could not understand how he worked with women - didn't they get upset all the time?

A female analyst at a Japanese bank found that some of her male colleagues could not bear to look at her in meetings as they didn't think she should be there.

City exchanges occasionally arranged journalist visits to trading floors, where the most conservatively-dressed female reporter would elicit jeers, catcalls, whistles and handclaps.

Meat market reports

Market reporters gain an insight into life in the City through their daily interviews with traders and the occasional long lunch.

Many contact lunches generate information, tips, lead to possible scoops. In the City, conversation can revolve around tales of lap dancing in Soho and prostitutes in Thailand.

Many telephone interviews are laden with sexual innuendo, some funny, some naff.

It can be nice, if incredibly irrelevant, to be told you have the sexiest voice in the market, when you ask someone why the FTSE has fallen to a record low.

"You are the sweetest thing in the sugar market," is the refrain that every female journalist covering the softs market - sugar, cocoa, wheat etc - becomes used to.

Not everything can be so easy to dismiss.

One Japanese trader explained prior to a lunch meeting, that he wanted to speak to the male reporter and look at the female reporter.

Asking a civil question and hoping to get a straight answer isn't always easy.

One bond trader suggested a sexual favour might be adequate compensation for his opinions on why UK government bonds had slumped in afternoon trade.

All in a days work? Mmmm.

What are your experiences? Is the City sexist? Send us your views.

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