According to an Instagram from an attendee, Goldman Sachs passed out nail files and makeup mirrors at a women's coding event over the weekend. The bank was the largest sponsor of Harvard University's Women Engineers Code (WECode) conference, which was organized by Harvard students, according to The New York Times. The Instagrammer was not, as they say, impressed: "Not sure if this is #sexyfeminism or gender stereotyping," she wrote. But wait, all ladies love nail filing and putting on makeup! Right, ladies??
A Goldman spokesperson told the Times that the bank also handed out T-shirts and key chains. "We are strong supporters of efforts to recruit and retain women in technology. We apologize if the gifts gave anyone offense," the statement reads. The bank also suggested to the Times that the conference's student organizers encouraged Goldman to bring gifts that would appeal to women. That still doesn't explain why the bank thought grooming paraphernalia was the best idea.
Goldman, like other banks, has struggled to recruit and promote women over the years. In 2012, former employee Marie Myung-Ok Lee wrote in The Atlantic that the workplace environment was like a "frat on steroids." When she worked there as an editor in the 1990s, "the hotness of the female junior analysts was judged on a daily basis."
But perhaps this is all one big misunderstanding. Business Insider's Josh Barro has a handy explanation for the gaffe:
This isn't sexist; the mirrors are for cocaine, and are unisex. http://t.co/88FNfzuB5q— Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 11, 2014
Photo by Minerva Studio via Shutterstock.