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Greater Achievements — Women in Financial History

Explore Four Dynamic Women in Finance 

Discover and celebrate women who made their mark on history within a traditionally male dominated industry — finance. These four incredible women changed the course of history with key contributions, and groundbreaking firsts from as early as the 1700s to present day.

Abigail Adams (1744 – 1818)

Perhaps best known for her activism efforts and marriage to U.S. President John Adams, First Lady Abigail Adams was actually the first documented female investor. During the early years of America’s founding, first lady Abigail, like many other women, was left in charge of the home, family, and finances while her husband was off at war. She made a great deal of her family’s money investing in government bonds, actually going against her husband’s recommendation to invest in land instead.

Maggie Lena Walker (1864 – 1934)

Born a daughter to slaves, Maggie Lena Walker was determined to go after her education and make a name for herself. During her school years, Walker gravitated towards accounting, math, and entrepreneurship which eventually led her to found an insurance company for women. In 1903 in her hometown of Richmond Virginia, Walker started St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, becoming the first woman to ever own a bank in the United States. Her achievements not only opened the door for more women to enter the field, but encouraged savings and economic independence within the black community. “Walker’s vision and leadership set the standard for community lending institutions” (investrafinancial.org). Her bravery and trailblazing business spirit, at a time when women didn’t yet have the right to vote proved impressive then, and remains a triumph through today’s lens.

Murail Siebert (1928 – 2013)

Murial Siebert paved her road to financial history by becoming the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. By the mid-1960s, Siebert grew more and more tired of making less money than men while doing the same exact work. After weighing her options, Siebert was advised by a close friend to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Though, at that time in history, “the only women working on Wall Street were secretaries and support staff,” (womenshistory.org) proving her goal to be no easy feat.

Throughout her first nine attempts to acquire a sponsorship, she was turned down until finally a 10th man agreed to sponsor her, but she still needed to obtain a $300,000 loan in order to buy her seat. Finally, after two years of trying, Siebert secured the $300,000, and by 1969 had started Muriel Siebert & Company. Fearlessly fighting for her seat, Siebert went down in history as the first woman Wall Street Broker, the first woman Superintendent of Banking for New York State, and remained the “only woman out of 1,365 men on the New York Stock Exchange for 10 years.” (womenshistory.org)

Rosemary T. McFadden (1948 – Present)

Rosemary T. McFadden began her career as a Staff Attorney for the New York Mercantile Exchange. In 1984, Rosemary became the first woman to serve as President of any trading exchange in American history. Leading the exchange from 1984 to 1989, NYMEX became the world’s largest energy exchange, expanding its offices in Asia and Europe. Plus, “its crude oil contract became the price reference point and benchmark spot for future trading.” (fia.org)

Paving the Greater Way 

The list doesn’t end here. These amazing achievements made by women are only a select highlight of all the incredible accomplishments throughout history. Remember to continue recognizing and celebrating firsts for women across all industries, and across the globe.