Traders in the Chicago Board Options Exchange's SPX pit. (Shen Lu/MEDILL)

Women traders carve path in male-dominated industry

By Shen Lu

Trading has always been a male-dominated industry, but some women have made a career out of it.

When Roma Colwell-Steinke, instructor at the Chicago Board Options Exchange Options Institute, started on the CBOE trading floor in 1991, she was one of the four females among 1,000 traders in the derivatives pits.

Colwell-Steinke began her career as a trader in 1985 on the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco. She then traded on the CBOE for 11 years after moving to Chicago in 1990.

Trading is by no means an easy job, and it’s even harder for women. Steinke said she was harassed and bullied by male traders who simply weren’t happy to see a woman being able to do what they did.

“The hardest thing of being a woman is really you have to be better than every guy standing in your pit,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Colwell-Steinke said she loved the job, and hopes that more young women will join the industry as more of them are studying math and sciences.

Photo at top: Traders in the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s SPX pit. (Shen lu/MEDILL REPORTS)