Despite Sexism & Gender Inequality, Working In A Male-Dominated Industry Helped Me Find My Purpose

By Sarah Potter

After Sheryl Sandberg published ‘Lean In’, a non-fiction on the challenges women face in trying to get ahead, I thought there was an overarching sigh of relief across the nation. The concept could quite possibly be enough to encourage women to lean inI hoped. But even with her powerful message backed by statistics and studies, my industry, trading and finance, and the challenges I’ve continued to face have remained shockingly unoccupied by women.

Although data has illustrated women’s far greater strengths when it comes to investing, there is still considerably less women walking Wall Street than men. Hedge funds have multiplied over the past 25 years and women account for only 9.4% of the roughly 7,700 fund managers in the United States.

The gender gap in the financial industry leaves an ominous tone for women interested in investing and learning how to trade. What should be accessible to women has been deemed intimidating, leaving most women looking elsewhere for financial freedom.

This notion did not sit well with me. I needed to disrupt the system and break down barriers that had been long built since the New York Stock Exchange was founded.

The Judgement? Use it as fuel.

My trading began very differently than many others in this industry. Unlike most traders, I don’t have a financial background. I was always interested and intrigued by the markets but didn’t understand it. I began asking a lot of questions and after some time, I left my position on the board of education in my city.

I was bright-eyed at the flexibility trading from home offered and my motivation to trade was driven by the challenge of mastering a skill that had been, for the most part, untouched by women. I was ready to disrupt a male-dominated industry and earn a seat at the table where very few women had sat.

Throughout the years, I’ve experienced many instances of vocational rejection from the men that surround me, especially in public forums. One notable experience when I was invited to speak at an event and was standing amongst a group of other all-male speakers, a new VP of a trading brokerage firm came up and introduced himself. He shook every hand in the circle – except mine.

Although I was one of the headlining speakers at the event, his assumption that I wasn’t actually a trader, left me without a handshake, and further drive to continue to do what I do.

While it may be hard to swallow, the things that light up our insides, that frustrate us and make us want to yell at the top of our lungs, those are the emotions that need to be alchemized into fuel to drive us forward. Defeating the naysayers by stepping into your true power is the fuel that will inspire yourself and those around you to ignore the notorious “boys clubs” and continue blazing a trail.

You Are Your Hero

After several years of successful options trading under my belt, I had an opportunity to meet one of the biggest names in the DIY trading industry. While touring the office, I realized I was not the norm. Being a female trader was unique and the women I saw were being utilized in supportive or administrative roles.

This realization swept over me and filled me with nerves and doubt. I was asked to speak in front of the company and could not even remember my own name, let alone anything about the markets. Needless to say, the presentation was not my best.

It devastated me.

That day I had an a-ha moment in finding my purpose. It came from frustration and disappointment in my own struggles with an unexpected lack of confidence. I felt stifled by the stigma of a predominantly male industry and it was written all over my face.

Often times, we default into the personas that society has deemed “appropriate” for women. The “nice shy girl” or the “supportive assistant” is a role that may be familiar to you as it is to me. The familiarity of this has been ingrained in us since childhood. In order to disrupt the industry, we need to re-write the script.

We as women need to rewrite ourselves as the hero and drop the notion that we are an imposter in an industry that we do not belong in.

What is your superpower?

When I was a young child I remember someone asking me what I wanted to do

when I grew up. I answered “I want to make a difference.” Realizing that my feelings of exclusion were not uncommon for women across the nation, it has been my mission to make this knowledge understandable and available for everyone. I wrote ‘How You Can Trade Like A Pro: Breaking into Options, Futures, Stocks and ETFs’ (Published by McGaw Hill) in 2014 and have dedicated my life to increasing accessibility in an industry that severely needs it. It is my goal that I can empower those that want to take back control and feel confident about financial decisions. Money doesn’t have to be scary or emotional, we just need to develop a new relationship with it.

What was that thing that you wanted to do when you grew up? What is your superpower? We are all super-powerful, sometimes it just takes a change in mindset to see clearly.

While “boys clubs” still pervade the financial industry and many others, we as women have an opportunity to change the narrative and find our superpowers. The new narrative we speak is designed around helping every person feel educated and empowered to pursue what fuels the fire in their soul. The preconceived notion that women will only be successful in specific roles is a societal belief that is ready to be retired.

We have a chance to lead before our daughters and sons and create industries that welcome anyone motivated to work hard and learn. All we have to do is start.





Sarah Potter is a professional retail trader, author, speaker, and president of Most importantly, Sarah Potter is a proud disruptor in the DIY investing industry. She is breaking down the barriers to understanding the markets, money and retail trading.

Twitter: @shecantrade


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