There is no glossing over the fact that the majority of people who trade the markets, whether as a second income or a full-time job, are male. However, although the world of professional trading is still dominated by men, the accessibility of retail trading makes it possible for a more even gender spread. We get insights from female traders using Wyckoff VSA on what it’s like to be women in trading in 2020.
The backdrop to gender disparity in trading
Back in 2012, it was revealed that 95% of professional traders were male. A staggering, if not surprising, figure. The fact that in 2018 the NYSE equity trader, Lauren Simmons, was being singled out for being different - one of a handful of female traders on the NYSE and a woman of colour - shows that change is slow in the trading industry.
But in the same Business Insider report, we learn that the same company that hired her, Rosenblatt Securities held a hiring round later in the same year, and of 250 applicants not a single woman applied.
That said, with the reach of networked devices into the home, it has become immaterial what gender someone is when entering the trading game. So, how does it differ for the retail trading space? A 2018 report from the broker comparison site, Brokernotes, found that 14% of the world’s 13.9 million online traders worldwide are female, though it was 10% the year before. So, there’s still a long way to go.
Let’s hear from some of those female traders on some of the key issues and challenges faced by women in trading.
Challenges and barriers for female traders
Is the trading floor culture still an issue?
While traders report going to conferences where less than 10% are female traders, or being in online interactions where it is assumed they are men, the trading floor culture isn’t so much of a factor, when everyone trades from home. However, the perception may still be a barrier.
‘It’s not about being intimidated by a huge crowd,’ says Lauren Snedeker, Director of Education at Tradeguider, ‘Because there is no crowd – everyone is on their own.’
Lauren has been trading intraday futures for 10 years and has worked with Tradeguider in different capacities since 2011.
We spoke to two Wyckoff VSA female traders: Jean Loftus and Vendi Grobelšek. Both trade from home outside their full-time jobs. Jean, mostly a swing trader based in the US, has been trading for over 20 years on and off, across a range of markets. Vendi, from Slovenia, has been trading seriously for a year and scalps the cash FOREX market.
‘I have never traded on the floor but I have a friend who did,’ Jean recounts, ‘And wow, was it an issue [being a woman] when she was doing so,’ says Jean Loftus. Jean isn’t fazed by being one of a handful of women at a conference – her work has always taken her into a male-dominated world.
Elsewhere though, trader and content creator Jane Gallina (Airplane Jane), talks of other experiences: In this video, Being a Female Day Trader in a Male-Dominated Field, Jane talks about being trolled in an online chat room in a way that felt uniquely targeted to her for being a female trader.
Neither Lauren, Jean nor Vendi report experiencing this kind of reception. That said, all three of them stay out of online chat rooms, preferring other ways to get their market information.
‘For the limited time I have, I spend it with myself and the charts,’ says Jean.
What are the biggest barriers for women in trading?
‘Most women’s barrier to entry is time,’ says Jean. ‘We always do more than our job.’
Vendi also thought it could be the same for others, attributing the amount of time she has to put into it to the fact that she doesn’t yet have a family to look after.
But with men’s increasingly equal share of the housework and childcare, and with the plethora of leisure options available all competing to be scheduled, this could be an issue for a trader of any gender, not just female traders. Yet, while both Vendi and Jean both said they thought lack of time prevented some women getting started, they seemed to have the juggling on lock.
Vendi trades for two hours after a full day’s work in the pharmaceutical industry, four days a week. She often spends time on the weekend reading and watching trading videos.
Meanwhile, Jean has two businesses and a family, as well as sometimes putting an additional 40 hours a week into trading! Although, there have been times when she doesn’t trade at all.
Jean wonders if women are less likely to venture into something they don’t know anything about and don’t know where to begin, especially if time is an issue. For her, it was following an interest in visuals, graphs and analysis that drew her in.
Differences in trading approaches between women and men
There have been several reports that suggest women tend to make better traders than men - including research from Financial Skills and the University of Leicester. So, what do our female traders using Wyckoff VSA say about this?
As part of her job supporting Tradeguider customers in their quest to become successful traders, Lauren has noticed that the female traders she deals with tend to be more studious.
‘They study their strategies, go over them step-by-step, study the analysis and tell you why they took the trade’, Lauren reports.
Vendi feels that there are more advantages than disadvantages to being a female trader, at least from home. ‘We are by nature more cautious - we don't like to risk too much.’
This view would appear to be borne out by the research on women in trading, as noted in the studies above. Women tend to be more efficient traders than their male counterparts. That said, ‘It’s more related to personality, not gender differences,’ says Jean. ‘The ability to be objective is a personality trait.’ And objectivity is what you need in trading.
Vendi agrees that it’s about personality: ‘It doesn't really matter if you’re a man or a woman as long as you’re motivated to learn.’ It’s just a matter of determination and motivation, she adds.
Jean thinks it’s about having an interest, being able to be objective, having time, and perhaps key, having a mentor.
What would encourage more women to start trading?
Lauren also talks about the importance of knowing someone who already trades first and having them share their knowledge. She finds that female traders using Tradeguider tend to think they need to know more than men before they start. Perhaps this is about that well-reported difference in attitude to risk. Vendi reports she took her time to research how to trade before her first move.
Vendi’s older brother started talking to her about trading the markets when she was 16 years old, introducing her to Tom Williams’ book, ‘The Undeclared Secrets That Drive the Stock Market’. Her first foray into trading was prompted by someone else giving her €50 to invest in cryptocurrencies.
It turns out, according to the Brokernotes survey, that cryptocurrencies and FOREX are where most women traders like to trade. If you’re interested in trading either of these classes, head over to our Free Resource Center where you can find out how Wyckoff VSA can be used in these markets.
Vendi says that before knowing the Wyckoff VSA methodology she looked upon trading as being the same as playing the lottery or gambling: a wild risk where the maths was ultimately stacked against you. She wonders if this misperception also is a disincentive for other women to get involved.
Top tips for female traders to find success in the markets
Here are a few tips from our featured female traders for women in trading hoping to find success in markets:
- 1. Start small and take your time to learn. 'It is way harder than I thought it would be', says Vendi.
- 2. Pick your information sources well and find a mentor. Avoid toxic chat rooms. ‘So much of what other people say is noise,’ says Jean. ‘It is a distraction and it affects my objectivity.
- 3. Get an overview of all the asset classes before you start. ‘We tend to gravitate towards what someone pointed us to,’ says Lauren, rather than to a market that suits us best.
- 4. Choose a market and trading style that fits your other commitments. For instance, Vendi trades the cash FOREX market because the US market opens just when she gets home from work and she likes the timescale it allows for scalping. 'Usually, I am not more than an hour in a trade,’ she says.
- 5. Know your risk/reward ratio, be patient, be objective, study. ‘There’s always more you can learn,’ says Jean.
- 6. Find an analysis system you believe in. Both Jean and Vendi said what a difference using Wyckoff VSA made to their attitude and success.
- 7. Track your progress. As Vendi says, 'it's a learning process. Every trade I do I print and glue it into my notebook and analyse it over and over. I still find myself on the wrong side sometimes, but I can see progress.’
Summary: Gender shouldn’t be a barrier - it’s about preparation and mindset
As you can see, these tips for success are not gender-related or specific to women in trading. The market doesn’t care who you are. The market manipulators are just trying to outwit you. Which is where Wyckoff VSA comes in – it helps you track those manipulators, so that you’re smarter than the herd.
Determination, patience and perseverance are all that’s required and at Tradeguider, we know that can equally be present in a person from any ethnicity, economic background, sexual orientation or any of a spectrum of genders.
We just want new traders, not just female traders, to know what is really going on so that they save time and money when trading the markets. Volume Spread Analysis offers a unique view of the activity of the market movers, also known as the ‘smart money’. Learn more in the handy blog post about this effective trading method.
Tradeguider is the home of Wyckoff Volume Spread Analysis, which enables traders to track and trade in harmony with the forces that really move the markets. Let us show you how this clever trading software with its customisable analysis and alerts can work for you. We have regular educational events and webinars, mentorship programmes and courses for traders of all experience levels - explore our website. Get in touch to discuss Wyckoff VSA or if you have questions about how to get started or improve your performance.