published Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

UTC donors urge more women in investment world

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    Renee Haugerud, left, and her husband John Murphy enjoy a light moment with student Beata Knizat in UTC's new Finance for the Future lab.

Could giving birth and making investments be two activities in which women are genetically unique?

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga business school is currently working to test that theory.

It’s difficult to say for certain, because success in the world of finance is part science and part art, said Lauren Templeton.

And she would know.

Templeton, director of UTC’s Finance for the Future initiative and a successful hedge fund manager, found success as a woman in a universe populated mostly by men, and has now begun in earnest the task of encouraging other women to jump into finance.

“The motto for the business school is ‘business world ready.’ My motto for my students is ‘Wall Street ready,” Templeton told attendees Monday in the university’s new live model trading floor.

Beata Knizat, a female student who’s just finished writing a paper for Templeton’s course, said the need for women in the field comes down to science.

Women produce oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” both when bonding with their children and when trading securities, Knizat said.

“The same chemical that causes women to bond with their offspring gets produced when they are trading, and they tend to hold onto things a bit more,” she said.

If more traders held onto stocks for a longer period, even in the face of declining prices, markets would be markedly more stable than they are today, she indicated.

The testosterone that men produce in large quantities, on the other hand, brings out a “fight or flight” response that in many cases causes them to sell at the bottom, and buy at the top, she said.

While not exclusively dedicated to teaching women, the disparity between the number of male and female traders is so large that the market itself could actually be at risk, said John Murphy, a UTC graduate.

“If everybody’s trained the same way and everybody’s in the same club, they’re all going to act pretty much the same way,” Murphy said. “Everybody knows men and women are different, but you have to have both.”

In fact, only about 2 percent of portfolio managers are women, said his wife, Renee Haugerud, who is in a position to speak with authority on the subject.

Haugerud is a rare breed. She founded the $1.1 billion hedge fund Galtere Ltd. and is chief investment officer.

It was the couple’s idea to give $1.5 million to help buy a dozen $20,000 Bloomberg terminals for the UTC College of Business and underwrite Templeton’s job.

The practical reasons why she feels the financial world needs more women is a bit more complicated than babies versus boxing gloves, she said.

She’s been looking to hire female traders for quite some time at her firm, but “it’s almost impossible.”

“Typically the more females are in power in any given country, the more budget expenses shift to healthcare and infrastructure,” she said. “We want women to get their share of the GDP pie.”

Not only should women embrace more lucrative careers, but they should be “obligated” to produce their share of economic output, Haugerud said, not just expect a handout.

“We’re justice and egalitarian fanatics,” she said.

But that aside, she’s not afraid to use her power and money to give her worldview a leg up.

“Power and money talk. You get the power and money and you have the power to make change,” she said.

How does she know?

“I had the same ideas when I had no money or power, but no one would listen.”

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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