I saw the news the first time it appeared: a Citibank female employee filing a suit against her former company because she was fired due to her attractiveness.

I was amused...

I have heard of similar stories here in our local scene, and the most that was done was tell off the female subordinate to dress up - and appropriately. Very much unlike Ms Lorenzana's case of getting fired.

Anyway, I saw this news article, about two weeks ago today, and I am quite interested on how it was related here by the author.

What could be our supposed 'ace' turns out to be a bad card after all. Or is it?

Read on...

Dressed to distract

by Maureen Dowd
It's hard to feel sorry for a woman who frets about being too beautiful.

Ordinarily in life, extraordinary good looks are an advantage for men and women - and even babies. Not only do babies gaze longer at more comely adult faces, research tells us, but parents may gaze longer at more comely babies.

So it was unusual when a knockout in New York, Ms Debrahlee Lorenzana, a 33-year-old single mother, filed a suit against Citigroup, claiming that she was fired in August from the Citibank branch at the Chrysler Centre for looking too sexy.

"Plaintiff was advised that as a result of the shape of her figure," her lawsuit reads, "such clothes were purportedly 'too distracting' for her male colleagues and supervisors to bear".

The media have had a field day. Last week's Village Voice cover profile of Ms Lorenzana - who grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to New York when she was 21 - raved about the bank officer's charms: "At five-foot-six and 125 pounds, (167cm and 57kg) with soft eyes and flawless bronze skin, she is J Lo curves meets Jessica Simpson rack meets Audrey Hepburn elegance."

Television and tabloids ran pictures, taken by a photographer who works with her lawyer, showing Ms Lorenzana in the pencil skirts, turtlenecks, tailored jackets and stilettos that she says made her bosses at the bank concentrate on the wrong kind of figures.

"She has to manage her wardrobe so these men can manage their libidos?" said her lawyer Jack Tuckner, adding that her bosses acted as immaturely as the boys on Wayne's World.

As she prepared to appear on the Monday morning shows, Ms Lorenzana recalled that her supervisors obsessed over what she was wearing "saying things are too tight, you cannot wear turtlenecks. Well, guess what? When you say my pants are too tight when they're not, then you must have been staring at me.

"The reality is, I'm a size 32 DD. I'm very skinny, and then I have curves. So, of course, on my body, the turtleneck is going to make it more noticeable. But I'm not showing cleavage. We wear jackets."

She said a co-worker who shopped with her and bought the same styles and designer brands never got in trouble, and neither did some tellers who wore low-cut tops, snug pants and hot boots.

"I said: 'You are discriminating against me because of my body type'," she said with a slight accent and a breathy voice. "This is genetic. What am I supposed to do?"

Citigroup didn't return calls for comment on Friday. Ms Lorenzana's lawsuit says that her bosses told her that her female colleagues could wear what they liked because their "general unattractiveness rendered moot their sartorial choices".

Her well-tailored clothes, on the other hand, emphasised what her lawyer calls her "hour-glass figure".

An opposite reaction

This case has caused such fascination because usually it's the other way around.

Attractive professors get better evaluations from their students, according to one study. A 2005 analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis confirmed what seems apparent, from presidential races to executive boardrooms: Good-looking people and tall people get a "beauty premium" - an extra 5 per cent an hour - while there is a "plainness penalty" of 9 per cent in wages.

A study that looked at men's height as teenagers and their salaries later found they made US$789 ($1,115) more a year for every extra inch of height. Meanwhile, obese women tend to get substantially lower wages than women of average weight.

Although people laugh at the idea of a babe in the office being as maddening as Tantalus' out-of-reach fruit, women do get penalised this way sometimes.

A male friend once told me he was looking for an unattractive personal assistant so he wouldn't be tempted. And when I was hiring a Grace Kelly blonde as a researcher a few years ago, a male colleague asked me not to because it would be "too distracting" to him; two girlfriends cautioned me not to because it would be depressing - and therefore, distracting - for me to work with someone so good looking. (It wasn't.)

"Sometimes, honestly, I wish I didn't look the way I did," Ms Lorenzana says, "because people judge you right away. Other women have their guards up, they automatically categorise you as being conceited. I have to work three times as hard to prove that I earned this through my hard work.

"My life has been hard my entire life. People have this misconception that, 'Oh, you do well in your life because of your looks.' No, I am harassed." The New York Times

The writer is a New York Times columnist who won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 1999.

From TODAY, Commentary - Monday, 07-June-2010
Dressed to distract

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Well, if this study points out that the stock exchange is ruled by men, would you trust your stocks trading to a female trader?

Just asking.

Read on...

Testosterone an elixir for stock market success

WASHINGTON - The most successful stock traders have higher levels of the male hormone testosterone, providing a dramatic boost to their confidence and drive, according to a British study published Monday.

Researchers at Cambridge University found that testosterone also appears to increase traders' appetite for risk-taking a quality likely to enhance the performance of those who earn a living in the high-stakes world of the stock market.

"Market traders, like some other occupations (such as air traffic controllers), work under extreme pressure and the consequences of the rapid decisions they have to make can have profound consequences for them, and for the market as a whole," said Professor Joe Herbert, Cambridge Center for Brain Repair, one of the researchers on the study, which was to be published Monday in the Annals of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Complete Guide to Investing in Short Term Trading: How to Earn High Rates of Returns SafelyThe researchers also noted that success fueled by testosterone feeds itself, in part because it leads to the production of even more testosterone.

In male athletes, for example, testosterone levels rise prior to competition, and rise even further in a winning athlete, but decrease in a losing one.

The phenomenon called the "winner effect," can increase confidence and risk-taking and improve chances of winning yet again, in a positive feedback loop.

"Hormones may also be important for determining how well an individual trader performs in the highly stressful and competitive world of the market. We are now exploring this in much more detail," the researchers wrote.

The study followed 17 male traders in the City of London for eight consecutive business days.

Trend Trading for a Living: Learn the Skills and Gain the Confidence to Trade for a LivingTo measure the traders' hormones, they took saliva samples twice per day at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, times that fell before and after the bulk of the days trading. At each sampling time, traders recorded the traders' profits and losses for the day.

They found that daily testosterone levels were significantly higher on days when traders had a higher than customary daily average.

On the down side however elevated testosterone may explain why stock traders sometimes make irrational choices that lead to bubbles and crashes.

Researchers speculated that if testosterone levels continued to rise or became chronically elevated, it could prompt traders to engage in reckless risk-taking and undermine their profitability.

They noted that earlier studies have linked administered testosterone to impulsivity, sensation-seeking and harmful risk-taking.

High Probability tradingDr. John Coates, lead author of the study said: "If testosterone reaches physiological limits, as it might during a market bubble, it can turn risk-taking into a form of addiction."

Coates, himself a former trader, added: "At times like these economics has to consider the physiology of investors, not just their rationality." - AFP/ar

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; source article is below:Testosterone an elixir for stock market success

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When we finally decided to sell our current flat, with the primary purpose of "cashing-in", in order to have some money to close out some loans and still have some savings left, my wife took a long time getting the thought to sink in. She vacillated between yes and no, ok and why, what if and what if not, etc., etc. I understand. I didn't go through the same emotional roller coaster. I'm a man. She's a woman. And women tend to have more chance of getting attached. And a house that becomes a home is one thing that is sure to forge an emotional attachment to our spouses, especially when they are not working and they put a lot of energy in beatifying the home.

Cutting it all short, 2 weeks or so later, she settled. But a day or two of waiting for prospect buyers to come, I also found myself experiencing - well, that is what is even more torturous - quite an energy-sapping process: waiting. We did feel that there'd be nobody coming to even view the flat, much less to buy it!

Our agent was on the opposite pole, and she was quite confident of closing a deal, and doing the sale. We engaged her service last day of April, and she made it a point that by end of the next month, which is May, the resale is a closed and done deal. That’s what she said.

We talked about the schedule of the flat viewing; evening is ok, and even on some late night schedules, we agreed – if the buyer is serious. You see, she explained that it is not always the one who bids the highest who will end up as the final buyer who will close the deal with you. Not even at a time when the competition is so fierce, where the law of Supply and Demand* is very prevalent and very much in effect – both sides. Buyers tend to offer higher than the LO+ so that the Seller usually asks for a sky-high COV+. If many buyers would like to buy your flat, they would naturally offer more, and the COV goes higher and higher. Sounds good, right?


There is usually a paper that will be signed by both parties to initiate the resale, and it is called The Option. It carries a provision to lock-in the pre-supposed sale within 14 days, so that both Seller and Buyer cannot engage in any other transactions. It is legal and binding, and breaches will be legally dealt with. So what now? You see, at the end of the day, the one who shells out a thousand dollar and signs the Option form is not always the one who will finalize the flat resale. People can get pumped up and excited when in a heated bidding state, and what usually happens is that when they come home, cool down and realize what they’ve done, they’d simply let the grand be forfeited, instead of ‘really coughing up’ the very high COV. That is the point that our agent is always making. And, even they they do finalize the flat resale, they’re no longer happy – right from the start.

That is one very good lesson that I have learned from our flat resale.

She’s right. She has the right confidence, and she has the right motivation. She always talk about selling the flat at a ‘reasonable’ price, to the party who ‘needs a roof’ over their head – which usually means a lower COV, but a happier experience for both seller and buyer.

I agree.

For if there would come prospective buyers, and one who has more money bids higher than the one who needs the flat, and as in the case mentioned above where they don’t exercise their option and don’t finalize the resale, you end up:
  1. Getting a thousand dollars for free (since buyer didn’t exercise option to purchase, the initial deposit is forfeited. Indicated in the guideline)
  2. Losing 14 days in the process
  3. Losing ‘real’ buyers

Our flat value has increased by $100k in a matter of 2 years, and since we didn’t need any renovation when we moved in, we saved a lot then. What’s more, we were able to occupy the flat prior to the resale process completion date. Mid Nov 2007, we submitted the resale application, mid Dec 2007, the owner already gave us the key to the flat – 3 months prior to the resale completion date. These past events helped us to decide to do the same good deed done to us.

In all, there were only 3 batches of buyers who came and viewed our flat: 15-May team, 22-May team, and 23-May team. We have a 3-bedroom flat, but one common room was hacked and merged with the master bedroom, in effect making ours a 2-bedroom flat, 1 common room and a master bedroom becoming a huge bedroom with its walk-in wardrobe and air-con unit and all, very suitable for a young couple (as were the previous owners) and couples having small kids. Currently, we have 3 queen-size beds in the master bedroom, where we all sleep, and the common room is the study room for the kids. If you are the type of parent who’d wake up several times during the night and check on your kids, especially when they are infirm and you’d have to monitor their temperature or wake them up for their medication, this bedroom size and build is very suitable for you. It is for us. It was - then.

The kids are growing, and they would need a room of their own. This is another factor which we considered in the selling of our current flat: to buy a flat with 3 bedrooms, at least. And in the process, we’d have to pass down the flat to a couple or a family that had the same need as us – back then.

So true enough, the tradition lives on. From the 3rd batch was a young couple, starting off, and just like us in many ways: just been PRed+, much around our age back then, and for their case, will be marrying (ceremonially) at about the time the resale’s completion date is scheduled. So it is just right for them to have a flat of their own, to entertain friends, relatives and guests in. They came around 3pm 16-June Sunday, and returned 6.30pm to ink the deal. We’re not sure if they’ve seen other flats, but the even stricter and harder ruling makes you think fast and deal quick. That’s what they did.

And while they didn’t measure up to what we were asking (we’re not making a killing here), they did make a reasonable offer. We thought, we’re not going to be rich with that amount, but we counted our blessings, and with a little more hesitation and haggling, we settled down. While COV figures are rising up to about $58k in our area, we settled with $26k. No, it’s not heroic or modesty. The good deed that was done to us, we are simply paying it forward. We are continuing the tradition. As I said to the young couple, “This is a house of beginnings.” And they got the idea, and we all laughed.

What amused me is that during the time we were negotiating the price, they were staying by the kitchen, beside the toilet, while we were at the living room. Quite an odd team, the couple and their agent, I mused. But look at the pictures, and you’d understand why they weren’t fussy a bit standing around that area. As what our agent said, "4 kids and a big flat, ‘Your wife is a super girl!’"

Our 8-month old baby was helping out in the selling process. She’s actually making a fuss whenever there are people coming and she’s kept inside. So what happened is that we brought her out, put her in her crib in the living room, and she was ‘entertaining’ the guests. She did so all the while there are buyers coming. Or whenever the agent is around the house. Or when an inspector is checking our flat. Quite a trait for a baby, my wife said. She knows how to entertain people.

Our flat is now sold. Resale application has been submitted. First appointment date is marked. Flat inspection is done, and we are clear to proceed. The huge work is up: packing our things and getting ready for the big move.

But before that, we’d have to pick our new flat, and this time, we will be the buyers. May the good deed done return a hundredfold.


* The Law of Supply and Demand, in my connotation here, is this: ‘He who supplies makes the demands.’
+ LO stands for Last Offer, where buyers offer a sum when negotiating to purchase the flat. This is referred to as the Cash-Over-Value amount. And usually, the LO is an amount that the Seller didn't agree to. So would-be buyers will check on the LO, and if they are thinking of offering less, they don't proceed, but if more, they go in right ahead. And the Value is the ‘true value’ of the flat being sold, as determined by an independent, third-party valuer authorized by the government body handling matters about public flats. Nonetheless, since the valuer is a person, the Value figure becomes a subjective matter, but not much. How much difference, I should say around $10k.
+ PR means permanent resident, which is quite a similar term in many countries in the world. You are a foreigner, and if you like to staying in the country, you apply for residency. PR status is halfway between a foreigner and a citizen. You have the choice of applying for a citizenship, or revoking your residency altogether. It’s all your own choice.

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