plonkee money

June 27, 2008

why are there many dodgy salesmen, but not as many dodgy saleswomen?

Filed under: education and career — Tags: , , , — plonkee @ 8:48 am

A story by Ron @ The Wisdom Journal reminded me that it’s not uncommon for now respectable members of the personal finance blogging community to have once been salesmen of slightly dodhy insurance policies and other products. I use the word salesmen advisedly, as although there are nearly as many women blogging about personal finance as there are men, it doesn’t look as if any of them have held a job as anything like door to door saleswomen.

Of course, it’s possible that they have, but I just don’t know about their stories. But, now that I think about it, I’m not sure that I know many women in real life either who have worked in truly aggressive sales industries, with sales commission making up a large part of their pay. I have known salesmen, and male telesales people, and women who work in sales and marketing with performance related pay. But not women that have basically worked almost entirely on commission.

Unless of course, you count the Avon lady, the Tupperware party woman, and other related jobs. Although they are reasonably similar, they are generally seen as only for part-time work and *extra money* whereas a door to door insurance salesperson is expected to make a full-time living out of sales.

I wonder whether there is a hiring discrimination on the part of employers. Or maybe (and more significantly) a choosing discrimination on the part of women. I know that it would never have occurred to me to get the sort of job that Ron and JD have described. Most of the women I know (including fellow blogger Mrs. Micah) would get temping work if they needed a full-time job quickly. On the plus side, these jobs are usually slightly more ethical, but they have less earning potential and if you’re not careful can suck women into one of the traditional *C* careers (clerical, cleaning, caring, checkout, children).

I’m not saying that we should have lots of people rushing out to become women from the Pru. I’m just wondering whether it says something about the willingness of women to take risks (and on the other side, of men to take unnecessary risks). Does it suggest that often women don’t take up the opportunity to learn sales skills? Or maybe that men aren’t willing to learn the mundane skills of business.

I think it bears out the research that says that when women invest they do so sensibly and slightly cautiously – whereas whilst men are more likely to invest, they exhibit riskier behaviour. (By the way, female investors do better on average than men, but that’s only because sensible is good.) Perhaps I’m reading too much into all this. But I thnk it’s interesting. Tell me what you think – I’m interested in opinions, ideas and anecdotes, although if you have hard facts and scientific evidence that would be good too. Let me know in the comments.

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