In "Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs & Co." there are a number of issues.
One very concrete one is the alleged pay differential between male and female executives as well as their track record of being promoted.
As Bloomberg reports, plaintiffs contend female vice presidents earn 21 percent less than males. And about 23 percent of fewer female vice presidents were promoted to managing director than males. Plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres for certification of class-action status. Here is the Bloomberg article.
The other less concrete matter is the macho ethos of drinking and patronage of strip clubs. Of course, females who are not invited along or feel culturally or ethically uncomfortable going along will likely be shut out from networking opportunities.
That is not a new issue. Back when we Baby Boomer females were first "allowed" into Corporate America, we were locked out of the good times males enjoyed after work and on business trips. Of course, we knew that could hold us back in our careers. But, hell, the men didn't want us around. And that was that.
The fun times the boys have are vividly depicted in the new book "The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess." It by former employee at Galleon, Argus and J.L. Berkowitz Turney Duff.
Duff doesn't hold back. Because the sell side chases his business, the hookers are brought to him. He only has to go to seek out strip clubs if he's seeking novelty. And he can get into just about any party hosted in locations like the roof of the Thompson Hotel.
In Chapter 13, Duff notes, "The booze is flowing, beautiful women surround me, and wealth is everywhere." Here you can order the book from Amazon.com.
Sometimes female colleagues would accompany Duff to a bar or a private party held in a public place. Mostly, though, it was boys' night out. Duff speaks well of those women, particularly saluting their brilliance, work ethic and genuineness. Did not participating in hard partying impede their careers? That might be more a matter of perception than the kind of information one can document and present as evidence at a trial.
If "Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs & Co." is certified and goes to trial, you bet it will be closely followed. Gender issues in professional services have become increasingly important as the shelf life in those industries, ranging from finance to law, become shorter.