This Marketplace story combined the reporting I did for two of my podcasts, the one that went out on June 15th, and the one that was released on June 30th. It turns out that the majority of transgender men have more positive experiences of the workplace once they stop living publicly as women and start living publicly as men. And these experiences hit them hard, because for decades they've seen the workplace through different eyes - female eyes. Suddenly, as men, they find they have more authority and are seen as being more capable, even though they're the same people with the same abilities they've always had. Take Thomas, who began his working life as Susan. One fellow lawyer described Susan as 'incompetent', but said he 'really liked this new guy, Thomas.' Meanwhile, trans women have the opposite issue: their abilities are suddenly questioned. They have to get used to being seen as less competent.
University of Chicago researcher Kristen Schilt says trans men's and women's dual experience of office life is about the best evidence we have that men and women really are perceived and treated differently in the workplace.
June 24, 2014
In this story I look at why the number of women on US company boards is still so low. From one perspective, American companies are on the right track - according to a recent Heidrick & Struggles study, more than 20% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies are now occupied by women. The latest Catalyst numbers indicate the number isn't quite that high.
Still, the vast majority of people who make household purchases are women, and some of those companies that make the stuff women buy have no women on their boards at all. Quotas aren't a popular idea in this country, and there's varying evidence about how useful they are overall. Powerful shareholder groups such as Calpers are now weighing in, trying to push companies to get more women and minorities into the boardroom - so far with limited success.
May 5, 2014
Listen here. Aired on NPR's Morning Edition.
Alex Livingston (l) and Eddie Santillan (r), on the hunt for a company. Photo: Isabel Angell
Every time you do a story about rich people, or graduates from elite business schools, listeners complain. They're duly doing that in the comments under this NPR story of mine, which aired this morning on Morning Edition. The piece is about a weird little corner of the investing world known as search funds. Here's how it works: a group of investors doles out hundreds of thousands of dollars to a business school graduate or two who wants to find a company to buy and grow. If the company does well, the investors can potentially make a lot of money. Meanwhile the young guys (and they are virtually all guys) get a taste of CEO-ship and gain experience running a company and, they hope, making it more successful. It may sound nuts (why would any investor in their right mind bet on a person rather than an idea?) but it's an actual thing, and it's becoming more popular.
April 21, 2014
This is the podcast version of a two-minute story I did for Marketplace back in February. For the podcast I interviewed a couple of other people and expanded the stories of all the women I spoke to.
The number of women going into family firms is going up - in the US it's almost five times higher than it was in the late 1990s. But these women still face quite different challenges than their brothers, even in 2014. Tune in to hear five women from different generations talk about the pros and cons of being a daughter working at the family firm, including one who is now running the business. You can check out all other episodes of the podcast at TheBroadExperience.com.
April 14, 2014
Listen here. Aired on NPR's All Things Considered.
It turns out the pawn industry is expanding. But it's not just traditional pawn shops that are proliferating. Chains of pawn shops are springing up that are aimed squarely at the wealthy. I visited a couple of companies in New York, Borro and New York Loan. I also spoke to two people who had pawned items. One has plenty of assets. He pawned a couple of expensive watches to get a quick infusion of cash to finish a movie he was making. The other person was quite desperate after her business failed. And both managers of the companies I talked to told me they get plenty of business owners pawning items so they can meet payroll before their receivables come in.
My Planet Money editor was worried about my pronunciation of 'pawn': because of my English accent, 'pawn' and 'porn' sound almost identical. So I had to fake an American accent on every 'pawn' that came out of my mouth.
I tried on this beautiful, late 1950s/early 1960s diamond necklace. It felt fantastic. If you're interested, it's on sale at New York Loan for $65,000.