The Wager: Race, Gender, and Value in Elite Firms

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


Scholars have long established that race, class, and gender, as systems of inequality, influence whose labor is valued and devalued. The focus has largely been on the devaluation of care work gender-typed as women’s work and how this work is racialized. In contrast, I investigate another side of these inequalities often omitted from the analytical focus: How and why is high-wage service sector work, composed of mostly elite white men, so highly valued? I conducted 122 in-depth interviews and field observations of hedge fund, venture capital, and technology startup firms. I identify how organizational, interactional, and cultural processes, specifically those that delineate income and wealth, designate the work of these elites as of high worth. I find that the social interactions that set wages, bonuses, and equity reflect speculative, financial cultural logics that are distinct in each of these three fields, shaping how inequality is embedded within each type of firm. The processes through which earnings and capital are distributed in these fields are based on racialized, gendered, and classed assumptions about risk, value, and worth. I call the process of speculating on earnings and equity the “wager” to capture how elites in finance and tech view their earnings as consistent with the logic of accumulation of financial markets.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventThe Economics of Intersectionality - Keble College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Mar 202327 Mar 2023


WorkshopThe Economics of Intersectionality
LocationKeble College
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
OtherA one-day workshop exploring the connections between economics and intersectionality, with participants from academia, business and policy communities.
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