According to ABC News, "six female employees at the Wall Street bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Securities LLC are trying to break the proverbial glass ceiling with a $1.4 billion sex discrimination lawsuit". The women alleged that they were "passed over for promotions, and generally treated as second-class citizens at the firm". They are pursuing the lawsuit with the hopes of making the world a better place for their daughters.
I am very skeptical of the economic merits of this case. These six women allege that they were not paid what they were worth -- presumably their discounted value of marginal productivity. If these workers are paid less than they are worth, why didn't another company act as an arbitrageur and offer to pay them more? In fact, it seems like an alert entrepreneur could hire an entire firm of women who are allegedly paid too little and earn economic profits. Why hasn't this been done? The most likely answer to me is that they are already being paid a wage commensurate with their business abilities.
The women's attorney, Doug Wigdor, argues that discrimination is obvious considering that "Under 2 percent of the managing directors at the bank are women". This is a common fallacy. A grouping of a particular people does not automatically prove there has been discrimination. It may be that women have not worked in the industry as long as men or that they have different educational qualifications. "2%" is not compelling justification by it's own right. To be a bit more controversial, some people have argued that women are different than men. Some scholars believe that while men and women have the same average intelligence, the variance is greater for men. This explains, among other things, the greater proportion of men in top positions and the greater number of men in prisons and homeless shelters. Should we be upset that there are fewer female beggars than male?
Lastly, it might be that the consumers in general prefer men over women and this is the reason for the alleged discrimination. If so, this lawsuit is completely misdirected. The company should not be forced to pay because they were successfully serving the needs and biases of their consumers.