Women of Wall St
We celebrate the female pioneers of Wall St, Square's now a bank, and what happens when a comedian and economist discuss the markets.
Women of Wall St
“The real risk lies in continuing to do things the way they’ve always been done.” – Muriel Siebert
In a field dominated by men, succeeding on Wall St as a woman is that much more impressive. Yet while names like Buffett and Dalio are revered, some of their female counterparts have remained relatively anonymous.
Below are four women who deserve to be household names not only for their successes but also for breaking the glass ceiling that still hovers above so many women in the space.
The Firsts: Seat on the Exchange
Since the NYSE opened in 1817, tens of thousands of male traders had been granted the privilege of owning a seat on the exchange floor at 11 Wall St. It wasn’t until the winter morning of December 28 1967, 150 years after the exchange’s opening, that a woman was given the same honour; joining the other 1,365 male members of the exchange at the time.
Her name was Muriel Siebert; “Mickie” by those close to her.
A college dropout and natural risk-taker, Siebert bounced around jobs tiring of a below-average salary for above-average work. To change that, she began her own institutional research firm, Muriel Siebert, Inc., which is still in operation today.
Naturally, in the days before computer and electronic trading, Wall St was the home of markets. To be recognised, gain legitimacy and grow, market participants had to be on the floor. Doing so was a monumental challenge for a woman; after all none had ever done it before. It took Siebert 2 years to secure the loan and gain sponsorship.
After a decade-long career at the exchange, she went on to run for Senate and become the Superintendent of US Banking; during her tenure, no banks failed.
The Powerful: Exchange of Presidency
Combined, the NYSE and Nasdaq account for 55% of global equity capital. They act as the home of 7,488 stocks and over US$50t of market cap.
In 2014, Adena Friedman was promoted to president of the Nasdaq. Four years later, Stacey Cunningham became president of the NYSE; since this moment, the two largest equity exchanges globally have been female led.
A student of political science before completing her MBA, Adena joined the Nasdaq as a graduate. Following a similar path to Cunningham, Friedman worked her way up the corporate ladder; progressing from Head of Data Products to CFO to COO to President throughout the decades.
Away from Wall St, Adena holds a black belt in taekwondo.
From a high school summer intern in the 1990s to the corner office, Stacey Cunningham became the first female full-president of the exchange in 226 years. An engineer by education, Cunningham began her career in banking before working for the Nasdaq and finally the NYSE.
At just 22 years old, Lauren Simmons became both the youngest female trader on the NYSE floor in 2017. This was also a significant step for the black community who had previously only had one woman hold a position on the floor.
As a trader for Rosenblatt Securities, Simmons was responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in deal flow daily; executing and reconciling trades while sharing investment theses with institutional investors globally.
While she has hung up her trader’s jacket, her attention has turned to inspiring future female change-makers. She works as a motivational speaker and women’s finance educator. A biopic focusing on her accomplishments is in production.
This article celebrates the women who have laid the foundations for future generations. However, there is a significant way to go before women are adequately represented not only in finance, but business generally.