Gender, risk and the Wall Street alpha male

Article English OPEN
Maclean, Kate (2015)

From the outset, analyses of the 2008 financial crisis, in mainstream as well as feminist discussions, have been gendered. In particular, rampant risk taking in an unregulated environment, widely deemed to be a principle cause of the crash, has been associated with masculine characteristics. In this article I explore how the concepts of gender and risk entwine in two films on the financial crisis – The Other Guys and Margin Call. By looking at how gender is used to dramatise financial risk, I explore how understandings of high risk behaviour are gendered, and the implications this has in the context of finance. Fictional representations mediate public understanding of this notoriously complex field, as the number of films and documentaries on the crisis demonstrates. Exploring how gender is used to communicate risk reminds us that risk taking is part of a performance of masculinity that needs to be established by constructing a feminine, risk-averse other. The contention of this paper is that to address gender bias in finance and the economy, gendered meanings of risk need to be openly challenged, and cultural and material analyses of gendered inequality brought into dialogue.
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