For that reason, Jones said, the top of the industry probably won’t change.
“If you told me that this woman was not going to have a baby — certainly can get married but not going to have a baby — then I think it would be a completely different panel 20 years from now,” Jones said. “Assuming that she’s not going to have a baby.”
The other members of the panel shifted in their chairs as Jones spoke. There was awkward laughter when Jones said “bosom.” Other panelists offered differing perspectives.
Griffin told the audience that Jones “gave an honest answer to an honest question.” The moderator, Jeffrey Walker, ex-chairman and chief executive of a global private-equity firm, at one point jumped in and said, “So another way of looking at it . . . ”
Later in the discussion, Jones tried to clarify his comments. He also said that he had given a similar speech to a group of women who work in hedge funds.
“I’ve probably said too much and gotten myself in trouble,” Jones said during the symposium.
Zeithaml, the school’s dean, said he received complaints from alumnae and female faculty members immediately after the forum, which was held on a Friday. The following Monday morning, he sent a lengthy e-mail to all the commerce school’s students and staff members to further explain Jones’s comments — which he says were misinterpreted — and to urge women to pursue careers “in industries or professions that have not traditionally included women in large numbers.”
The e-mail also included an open letter from a 2001 graduate who has worked for a hedge fund. She urged young women to ignore comments like those made by Jones.
“There are many people who agree with the alumnus’s comments,” the graduate wrote. “When you come across those people, go the other way. Life is hard enough. You don’t need negative perspectives or people who tell you what is not possible in your life. Go around them and then prove them wrong. Do well, and come back to tell the next generation of women what is possible.”