The First Woman of Finance
Muriel Faye Siebert (1928-2013) was born to a Jewish family in Ohio. At 22, having dropped out of university, and with just $500 in hand, she moved to New York City. Siebert got a job on Wall Street making $65 a week, and quickly moved up the ranks. Frustrated that she earned only a fraction of what her male colleagues did, she decided to buy her own seat in the New York Stock Exchange (with a price tag of $445,000). After two years of hard effort, during which time she faced severe sexism and anti-Semitism, Siebert became the first woman to do so, and the first woman to own a stock brokerage. She would remain the only such woman for 10 years (among over 1300 males!), and continued throughout to fight for equal rights – not only in salaries and opportunities, but even basic necessities like a ladies bathroom. In 1977, Siebert was appointed New York’s Superintendent of Banks (another first), overseeing over $500 billion in finance. Under her watch, not a single New York bank failed, at a time when a great many others did. From there, Siebert ran for the Senate, but was unsuccessful. She returned to her brokerage and continued working into her old age. Both a feminist and a great philanthropist, Siebert gave millions of dollars to the cause, helping countless women open their own businesses and find success in the world of finance. She served as president of New York Women’s Agenda, developing a popular program called ‘Financial Literacy for Women’ (which was later adopted to New York’s high school curriculum). Siebert was awarded 19 honorary doctorates, and was elected to the National Woman’s Hall of Fame. Sadly, the ‘First Woman of Finance’ passed away last Saturday after a battle with cancer. Click here to see a recent interview with Muriel Siebert.
Words of the Week
In youth, one learns to talk; in maturity, one learns to be silent. This is man’s problem: that he learns to talk before he learns to be silent.
– Rabbi Nachman of Breslav