Jenny Just's Poker Power is attracting thousands of female financial professionals from...

 Jenny Just's Poker Power is attracting thousands of female financial professionals from around the world. Credit: Newsday/Peak6 Investments

In the long line of services promising to help women improve their lot at work, an entrant from a billionaire investor built around a card game is attracting thousands of female financial professionals from around the world.

Poker Power is a 12-course program created by longtime trader Jenny Just that uses the card game to teach risk-taking and negotiation techniques. Lessons, taught by seasoned players, start with basic skills, like how to read opponents and when to fold. Users then adapt those techniques to workplace scenarios, like asking for a raise. Then, they play Texas Hold ‘em with others over Zoom. (No money is at stake.)

There’s no shortage of books, classes, and consultancies targeting working women looking to level up their careers. Demand among female MBA students for Power Poker at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business was more than double the 100 spots offered. Almost 4,000 women in more than 20 countries have signed up to play.

Just, co-founder of Chicago-based Peak6 Investments, came up with the idea in 2019 with the hopes of recruiting more women to money-management roles, which tend to pay more. She’s had her own struggles with gender diversity at her firm — around 35% of traders at Peak6 are women — and industry figures are far worse. Women make up just 14% of the 25,000 money managers worldwide, according to data from Morningstar.

"Instead of a seminar, a rah-rah get together, I’m actually doing something tangible," Just said. "It’s a really safe place to fail, and practice failing, and then getting back up and trying again."

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