Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Inferior-Parietal Lobule

I posed the question, "why do you need to be male to be a successful trader?" the other day. After I'd written my recent post on youth versus experience, I got to thinking that in some ways trading is a little like chess - the important part is knowing what move to make rather then in how quickly the move is executed. Mike said:

I suppose a lot depends on what type of trading you partake in. For the last 5 yrs, mine has been speed based, so, I think you are a little premature to say, the emphasis on reaction time, isn't so important.

Many traders would pay many £000's, for a 1.10 sec edge.
The type of trading is everything, and speed based trading sounds hard work to me. While you certainly can't hang around when trading any sport in-play, if split-seconds are that important, then you would presumably need to be at the event rather than watching at home, given that "court-siders" are always going to have a speed advantage. While "court-siders" are certainly giving themselves the maximum possible advantage, the downside is that they are limiting themselves to one venue, as well as adding considerable expense (time, petrol, food, admission etc.) and inconvenience to their trading day. As for buying a 1.1 second edge, it sounds great, but it would be useless unless the advantage was exclusive to you. Good luck finding that deal anywhere. Fastest-finger might be OK when competing against a few people, but against hundreds if not thousands? And wouldn't a bot always beat a finger? It depends on the trigger I guess. Is it objective (scientific approach) or subjective (arty).

Anyway, back to my comparison of trading with chess, and I could have asked, "why are there so few women chess Grandmasters" or should that be Grandmistresses?. Mike again:
The male/female divide, is another really fascinating subject. I probably know - 300 traders, and only 2 are female. I am not sure I understand why, they can't or won't, make a living in these markets.

I would really appreciate your thoughts as to why females don't make it. (No sexism, just apparent fact).
My first thought is that Mike has a lot more friends than I do. I don't even know 300 people, never-mind 300 traders! My second thought is that the predominance of men in activities such as trading, chess, mathematics, and my own profession of IT is indisputable. Pythagoras observed 2,500 years ago that men are better at maths than women, so perhaps not much has changed after all. The top prizes in Mathematics, the Fields Medal, the Wolf prize and the more recent Abel prize, have been awarded a combined total of 105 times. Female winners? Not one.

Mathematics, and similar activities, just seem to be more of a male thing than female. My IT department had a meeting last week, about 40 people in attendance - and females? One, and that was because the Director needed his Administrative Support (read: Secretary), to press the "Next Slide" button. And I am totally serious. Not one developer is female. There are exceptions of course, but overwhelmingly, the computer related field is very much male.

The female brain appears to be better suited to other pursuits though, and there is a wealth of information and research findings on the Internet as to why this might be. Anything requiring empathy for example, and it's interesting that Autism and Aspergers, in part the extreme of lacking in empathy, is primarily a male trait, and I would imagine that autism 'sufferers' make excellent traders. They make excellent programmers!

It could all be down to our inferior-parietal lobules.
Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that there is a brain region in the cortex, called inferior-parietal lobule (IPL) which is significantly larger in men than in women. This area is bilateral and is located just above the level of the ears (parietal cortex).

Furthermore, the left side IPL is larger in men than the right side. In women, this asymmetry is reversed, although the difference between left and right sides is not so large as in men, noted the JHU researchers. This is the same area which was shown to be larger in the brain of Albert Einstein, as well as in other physicists and mathematicians. So, it seems that IPL's size correlates highly with mental mathematical abilities.

In general, the IPL allows the brain to process information from senses and help in selective attention and perception (for example, women are more able to focus on specific stimuli, such as a baby crying in the night). Studies have linked the right IPL with the memory involved in understanding and manipulating spatial relationships and the ability to sense relationships between body parts. It is also related to the perception of our own affects or feelings. The left IPL is involved with perception of time and speed, and the ability of mentally rotate 3-D figures (e.g. Tetris).
Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fisher may have been good at chess, but his anti-semitic, pro-Hitler and religious views as well as this comment on women chess players make it clear that something was missing.
They're all weak, all women. They're stupid compared to men. They shouldn't play chess, you know. They're like beginners. They lose every single game against a man. There isn't a woman player in the world I can't give knight-odds to and still beat."
Strange how someone can be so brilliant in one area, and such a retard in others.

Back to trading and women, and on a personal note, I've suggested that Mrs. Cassini learn to trade, but she doesn't think it's a good idea. She envisions a scenario whereby she's in one room trading away, while I'm in another. At the end of the session, I report a win of £1,234.56 while she reports a loss of ... £1,234.56!

She's more cautious by nature, doesn't care for sports, doesn't have the love for numbers that I have, and thinks investing would be more likely to be 'divesting'. She may be atypical, but I'm not sure she is. Women, in general, aren't into mathematics, are more cautious, aren't as interested in sports as men, and for trading on sports, all those factors are essential.

A final piece of research I found, and couldn't resist adding -
scientists have revealed that beer contains small traces of female hormones. To prove their theory, the scientists fed 100 men 12 pints of beer and observed that 100% of them gained weight, talked excessively without making sense, became emotional, and couldn't drive - no further testing is planned.


Jason Coote said...

Great post.

Joe said...

Some thghts :

First a generic one :

You clearly have a very organised and educated brain - is it intentional this blog isnt easy to browse, the older stuff. If you could put an archive section up, a lot of your hidden gems, may get even greater traffic.

Secondly, the above discussion re male/females is an exceptional post. I havent shown it to a female trader yet - but, will, and
await her response. If its constructive, I will post it.

I am not sure how lucky I am to know 300 traders - I was happy to know 5, 3 yrs ago, when in-running trading was ridiculosly easy, and huge profits accrued. Now, 300 or so, inhabit the space, and its more challenging, which is not always a bad thing.

Whilst on the subject of females - I have often tried to involve spouses on the ins/outs of trading, and, they just dont get it. Thats ok, I dont understand, a lot of what they do, but, traders dont always win .. and wimpy men, often want solace from their partner. If the partner doesnt understand, and cant contribute, is this a source of irritation ? How do you shrug off a bad day - as you cant talk to anyone close, and its hard to talk to like minded souls, as they are few and far between ?

Anyway, great Blog.


Mark said...

Hi cassini

Another great thought provoking post.

I think that regarding the lack of women trading sports, it may be worth looking at how people in general get into sports trading.
I would say that the there are two main paths that are taken:

1. Punters on sports like football and horse racing who probably after years of backing selections with limited success found the exchanges and realised that they could become the bookmaker by laying selections, they probably soon realised that laying was not the golden egg they thought it would be, but in the mean time had learnt from the betfair forum etc about sports trading.

2. IT professionals who through their liking of sports found out about the concept of sports trading and because of their higher than average level of IT skills (I’m not including the IT bloke at my work place in that group) took to the technical aspects of sports trading like fish to water.

As far as I can see the main commonality between the two groups is that before they became sports traders both groups were probably interested in certain sports that are predominately followed by men . IE horseracing, football etc

So as a natural consequence more men would take up sports trading.