Amazon is Not So Dumb Posted on February 21, 2010 by Yves Smith I just received this, and some of the people who helped me with the book have received similar messages: Post navigation ← Links 2/20/10 German Paper Says AIG May Have Sold CDS on Greece → Subscribe to Post Comments 40 comments Martin February 21, 2010 at 9:44 am I just pre-ordered the book, can’t wait to read you without typos!! PS: Why did you choose a male first name for you pseudonym? mcphilip February 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm What might Adam Smith’s wife be named? Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm The short version is for the same reason that J.K. Rowling is J.K. Rowling. There is a pretty robust literature going back to the mid 1970s that shows that the same writing sample, when attributed to a male writer, will be scored higher than when attributed to a female author. As a new, unknown blogger, why make things more difficult for myself than need be? In general, however, I think bias is a more complex phenomenon than generally acknowledged, see here: http://www.auroraadvisors.com/articles/Fit.pdf anarkst February 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm As much as what you are saying makes sense (using a male name to increase market penetration :), this is the same rationale so many people in positions of power use to defraud their constituencies. Please do not believe this is an attack against you, Yves, as it is only a heavy sigh, observing another quality individual capitulating to the perceived needs of mass society. Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm I don’t see this as capitulating, I see this as realistic. I suggest you read the article I linked to. Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell describes in Blink the Harvard Implicit Association test, which seeks to measure unconscious prejudice. The interesting thing about the test is that even when someone understands how it works, their results are stable no matter how many times they take the test. Gladwell, who is half black, was horrified to find he scored as prejudiced against blacks, and true to form, taking the test again did not change his results. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/ Gladwell also describes how orchestras used to conduct auditions for hiring purposes with the performer in full view. Women never got hired. Then for some reason (I forget why, my recollection is that the issue was not gender bias, but perhaps that the judges might know some performers personally, others not), the German musicians union demanded that all auditions be performed blind. Women suddenly started being hired by elite orchestras in numbers close to equal to that of men. Synergy February 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm Here’s an alternative explanation http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2010/01/a-rant-about-women/ Blueeastindian February 21, 2010 at 9:10 pm Yves, Sorry to be o/t I have left a comment on your Huffington Post article (from Feb15) requesting input for FDIC on regulating executive pay. You may want to contact the professor who just published the work on this timely subject. Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm Synergy, He is off base, I linked to that piece in Linked a while ago and debunked it. Massive sample bias. I know plenty of women who are aggressive self-promoters. Yours truly wrote her own recommendation letter on behalf of one of her B school recommenders. He laughed out loud when he read it, because I had gone exactly to the edge, in terms of self-puffery, of what he was willing to sign. That was in 1979, long before shameless self-promotion was a cultural norm. This “girls are modest” stuff is more urban legend. Perhaps Mr. Shirky unconsciously sends signals that discourage women and encourage men to pipe up. If you read the article I linked to, a transgendered professor (female to male) was asked what the biggest difference was in being male. He said he could now finish a sentence without being interrupted. He also routinely found people assuming his articles written when he was a woman were assumed to be by his sister, and further, those same people would dismiss his “sister’s” work as inferior to his. Synergy February 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm Yves, Thanks for your input. I will take your experience as valid, but I must admit that I’m somewhat surprised–my experience has been that (where I work at least, which is male-dominated) women get away with far more than men do. This could very well be an anomaly, though. I did read your piece, incidentally, but I thought that GS and McKinsey may have been different in that they encourage a cult mentality that would make them more likely to discriminate against those who don’t “fit in” Anyway, thanks. Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 21, 2010 at 9:56 pm I doubt that what you perceive as “get away with” translates into pay or promotion. Synergy February 21, 2010 at 10:14 pm Pay–definitely. Promtion, less so. I was thinking more along daily manners, though–ability to come in late or leave early or take longer-lunchbreaks and (of course) how far they can push flirting without taking any flak for it. If you don’t mind answering, though: given this bias that you saw, how far do you think you could have progressed (promition-wise) in GS had you stayed before hitting a glass ceiling? Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 22, 2010 at 12:14 am The first women made partner, several years after I left, were all Jewish. Goldman was very much a Jewish firm then. A buddy who was offered a job there (this as of 1986) was taken out to dinner by Hank Paulson, who in essence said, “As a member of the firm, I should not tell you this, but as a fellow human being, I will” and proceeded to tell him how hard it was being not Jewish at Goldman if you also wanted to be partner. There was what I am sure was revisionist history on my later due to Sumitomo’s investment in Goldman (anyone who left by definition was a loser; indeed, I had to explain for years why I quit Goldman, which was mucho annoying). Around 1989-1990, someone who did deals with Goldman partners (their personal funds, not Goldman as a firm) tried checking me out. Apparently the party line was, “She could have made partner, but we would have had to break her.” Synergy February 22, 2010 at 2:38 am Thanks for the answer. (and LOL–I suspect you’d be hard to “break”–I don’t envy the guy who’d have been told to do it!) If I can ask another “mucho annoying” question that I’m sure you’ve been asked before, though: Why did you never write a book about your time there, the way Michael Lewis did about his time at Solomon or Partnoy did, less successfully, about Morgan Stanley? You can obviously write well, and you clearly have something worth saying–it seems a little surprising that you are only publishing now. Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 22, 2010 at 2:47 am Investment banking is very boring, it would not have made for an interesting story. And the guys at Goldman were much less colorful than the crew at Salomon. And I am an analytical type, not a storyteller. andrew kaplan February 21, 2010 at 10:31 am i got a similar notice based on having bought brad de long’s book. can’t wait to read yours. wendell February 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm When I ordered your book (at this time, I’m doing so in order to boost your ranking–my “to-read” stack may be worse than yours), they suggested Stiglitz’s book also, and I ended up getting both at a slight discount from ordering each alone. walt February 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm Damn: I’ll have to get two copies to qualify for free shipping. Yves, you’ve still got that awful book tour coming, but after that your life will change. Be prepared to give up compulsive blogging. velobabe February 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm Yves.a.palooza book tour¿ Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm Actually, Palgrave recommended against a book tour. “Book tour” usually means going to Barnes & Noble in various cities. I gather that this is a plus for Big Names (Sarah Palin, Thomas Friedman) but isn’t productive for authors of most finance and economics books (yes, I know Gillian Tett had a tour…but…..) We will Do Something in NYC, am talking with agent re what. There is a good indie bookstore in Soho that has discussions, but not sure what their lead time for getting booked is, and the other expedient is to meet in a bar (that sounds a bit weird, but there are certain bars that regularly host author get-togethers, and that does have the advantage of a bit more latitude re hours than a bookstore setting). I may be going to DC, if so, we will sort out something there too. velobabe February 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm you spoke well at the last bar visit. no greed tour, good for you dear. decide between competitive or economics approach. LosingGround February 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm Are you going to post any of the 30+min speeches/Q&A on your sight and/or youtube? That could be good promotion (and, to be honest, a way to have something to follow as your posting declines). I think someone else had earlier recommended an hour-long interview on financialsense.com. It’s probably worth pursuing, imo–everybody I know who listens to that program weekly also routinely buys all of the interviewees books. Amit Chokshi February 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm What’s the time horizon for Kindle release? Also if you want to take a trip up to Fairfield County CT and do a presentation/book promo via the Stamford CFA Society I may be able to help with that. We have Greg Zuckermann doing a book promo/discussion on March 10 I believe. Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm Re Kindle, my understanding it pretty immediately after the pub date, March 2. Re coming to Stamford, thanks! That sounds like a good idea. Ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pete muldoon February 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm Kindel, please! LosingGround February 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm I could be wrong, but I don’t think the author has any say whatsoever in terms of what format the book is published (eg: hardcover, softcover, kindle). And I *really* hope that Yves can continue to blog. This site is one of the few worth reading daily. I can’t even just hope for a happy outcome, though: http://mondediplo.com/2010/02/11wishing :) Yves Smith Post authorFebruary 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm Hey, that would be a high class but I suspect short lived problem. The real risk is that more annoyed libertarians will show up. A few are useful for provoking debate, but a lot is kinda draining. I did keep up blogging while writing the book, but I suspect for the next one-two months, the most I will be able to do is two posts of my own and Links vs. my usual 3-4 posts of my own on weekdays. There is just a ton of stuff to deal with, more than I realized. Re Ehrenreich’s views, not surprisingly, I concur: http://www.auroraadvisors.com/articles/Optimism.pdf LosingGround February 21, 2010 at 4:19 pm Now that I think about it, there’ll probably be enough posters on here that we’ll prob have to register…UGH!! LosingGround February 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm Yves: The real risk is that more annoyed libertarians will show up. A few are useful for provoking debate, but a lot is kinda draining. By the way, I found this to be one of your funniest comments so far (: Paul February 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm In Washington, DC — Politics and Prose bookstore is the best author venue. Synergy February 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm Given how many congressman are whoring themselves out right now, she’s better off finding the local pimp (or brothel) and lecturing there. William February 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm If you like Robert Brenner, you should investigate Giovanni Arrighi’s books. The two jousted in New Left Review about global power and finance. 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