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Tales from the Boom-Boom Room: Women vs. Wall Street

ISBN: 978-1-57660-078-8
384 pages
November 2002
Tales from the Boom-Boom Room: Women vs. Wall Street (1576600785) cover image


In the 1990s, women in record numbers looked to Wall Street as a great place to build successful and lucrative careers. What many of them found there was no meritocracy, but an industry living by the rules of a 1960s fraternity, with the money and legal clout to silence any challenges. Award-winning columnist Susan Antilla broke the story of shocking sex discrimination at Smith Barney and other major brokers. Her disclosures in the press were a rallying cry for class actions challenging the sexual hazing and outrageous disparities in pay that shackled professional women on Wall Street.

Taking its title from the infamous basement party room of Smith Barney’s Garden City, New York, branch office, and representing years of extensive research, Tales from the Boom-Boom Room traces the story of the lead whistle-blower, Pam Martens, the crusading broker who put an entire industry on the defensive, then found herself at odds not just with her local bosses and with powerful figures like Travelers Group president Jamie Dimon, but with her coplaintiffs and attorneys. The women’s employment agreements forbade them to sue, and only an ingenious legal strategy circumvented that virtual gag rule and brought the scandal out from behind the closed doors of arbitration. This is a riveting human, legal, and business drama of women and men in the financial institutions on Wall Street and around America.
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Table of Contents


1 Garden City’s Party Spot.
2 From Appalachia to Wall Street.
3 Wild Times for Wall Street.
4 Nick’s Way with Women.
5 Martens’s Disorienting Orientation.
6 Martens Snaps.
7 That Was Happening to You, Too?
8 Dear Mr. Dimon: Martens Fights Back.
9 Getting Lawyers, Getting Fired.
10 Attacking the No-Court System.
11 Going Public.
12 Momentum: Merrill’s Women Sue.
13 Martens without Martens.
14 Settling the Settlement.
15 Pariah or Visionary?
16 Arbitration After All.

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Author Information

Susan Antilla has been investigating allegations of sexual harassment on Wall Street for the past seven years and broke several of its first major stories. Currently a columnist with Bloomberg News, she launched the weekly investing column in the Saturday edition and the “Between Main & Wall” ombudsman column at The New York Times. She was bureau chief of the Money section of USA Today and financial bureau chief for The Baltimore Sun. Antilla was twice selected as a finalist for a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.
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“A gutsy, important book.”
—Kate Jennings, The Financial Times, December 5, 2002

“At last, a book that shows what a really good investigative reporter can do with the hot topic of sexual harassment.”
—Lucy Sussex, Sunday Age (Melbourne), November 24, 2002

“Meticulously researched . . . a work of compelling Wall Street anthropology . . . Tales from the Boom-Boom Room does a tremendous job of working the reader into a low, steady rage. . . . Ms. Antilla’s book is an occasion to put an entire institutional pattern of behavior on open display.”
—Stephen Metcalf, The New York Observer, December 2, 2002 

“Comprehensive and sharply written. . . . The author turns up some outrageous details.”
—Heather Timmons, Business Week, November 25, 2002

“A powerful and startling indictment of the sexist behavior of stockbrokers working for Wall Street and its offshoots. . . . This skillfully written book reads like a fascinating novel, so graphic and dramatic that it is more like a screenplay than a report.”
—Rolf Dobelli, getAbstract, December 31, 2002

“An explosive new book that has scandalized Manhattan’s financial district.”
—Sarah Baxter, Sunday Times (London), November 17, 2002

“A startling new book. . . . A catalogue of long-suppressed abuse of women.”
—James Langton, The Evening Standard (London), December 5, 2002

“A compelling combination of investigative journalism and social-corporate analysis. . . . As riveting as anything on the best-selling fiction list if not for the sobering reminders that these are actual women fighting for justice against tremendous odds.”
—Angele McQuade, Better Investing, March 2003
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