5 Women Who Have Made Financial History
Throughout history, there have been women who have established themselves as trailblazers in the financial world. Whether they were exhibiting extreme financial skill or showing that they could play with the boys (and, in a lot of cases, crush them), these women have provided us with examples that we can all aspire to emulate.
So, in honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, here are my favorite women who have made financial history!
1. Abigail Adams
John Adams was a smart guy, but when it came to investments, his wife Abigail had him beat by a country mile. During the Revolutionary War, Abigail and John (who would eventually become the second President of the United States) spent a lot of time apart. Because of this, Abigail took responsibility over John’s finances and the family farm while he was helping with the war effort. After some time, Abigail decided she would go against her husbands advice of investing in his farm land, invested in U.S. government bonds instead. This action, a move that was completely unknown to women at the time, wound up paying off big for the Adams. Abigail is now considered to be the first U.S. female investor.
2. Georgia Neese Clark Gray
Georgia Neese Clark Gray didn’t just break the glass ceiling, she downright destroyed it. After graduating from Washburn College in 1921, she began working at her father’s Richland State Bank as an assistant cashier. By 1937 she had become president of the entire company. This wasn’t enough however for Georgia. Shortly after becoming an active participant in politics, she was elected National Committee Woman for the state of Kansas. Later on, she was appointed Treasurer of the United States, a position she held until 1953.
3. Muriel “Mickie” Siebert
Muriel “Mickie” Siebert was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1967, Muriel founded her own firm, Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc. That same year she applied for a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. This was not an easy task. The seat cost $445,000 and she was turned down by nine sponsors before finding the two she needed to endorse her. Because of her membership she was subject to the headlines “Skirt Invades Exchange” and “Powder Puff on Wall Street.” But today, Muriel holds the nickname “The First Woman of Finance.”
4. Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin
Turns out being the first woman to run for President of the United States wasn’t enough for Victoria Woodhull. After her failed run at the presidency, Victoria and her sister Tennessee Claflin decided they wanted to take Wall Street by storm. In 1870, the duo opened the first female-owned brokerage firm on Wall Street. The two were fearful of being discriminated against for being women however, and so had two custom-made dresses tailored to hide their femininity. Despite initially being immensely successful, the two were eventually found out and had to abandon their firm. Nevertheless, their impact on the financial world had been made.
5. Mary Roebling
Mary “The Banker in High Heels” Roebling was the first woman to serve as president of a major bank. After her husband Siegfried died in in 1936, Mary was awarded his seat on the board of the Trenton Trust stock. After only one year in her new position, she was elected President of the Board and remained there until 1973 when the bank merged with National State. After running both banks for several years, she left to become the first woman governor of the American Stock Exchange. When Mary first started working at the Trenton Trust Company the bank’s assets equaled about $17 million. When she left the bank in 1984, assets had risen to $1.3 billion. Not too shabby!
While women are still faced with numerous obstacles, we have these women and many others to thank for helping to pave the way to equality. This month, take some time to reflect upon some other monumental women in history. Maybe you’ll find some inspirational role models of your own, or, at the very least, garner a new appreciation for some truly fantastic women.