Monday, August 26, 2013

Another Awesome Woman's Life To Celebrate

A truly kickass woman, who not only spearheaded women's power on Wall Street, but paved the way for the end of discriminatory practices against women in the business community, died at age 80 on Saturday.

Her name? Muriel Siebert.

She had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, back when women weren't even allowed on the elevator at the Union League Club. She was the first woman to become New York State Superintendent of Banking. She formed one of the first discount brokerage firms. She spent millions to help other women in business. She developed a curriculum for high school students to learn personal finance. She used a bit of her money to buy furs and learn to fly. Oh, and she made the Stock Exchange install a ladies' room on the seventh floor.

I remember when I had my job interview at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and my soon-to-be mentor took me to lunch at the University Club. Women were't allowed to be members, and he had to take me to a special ladies' dining room for lunch. I couldn't even peek into the main dining room. By 1987, the University Club barriers came a-tumblin' down. But so many other, more insidious barriers remain, even today, against women attaining equality, prominence and power inside diehard male bastions of the business world.

Women in business, women in the professions, women in the arts and in the trades. We still tend not to climb to the same levels as men when it comes to money, position or clout. Still, we owe a huge thank you and a moment of celebratory silence in memory of a woman who put her energy, her time, and her money, where her heart was: Toward equalizing women as power-movers and money-makers and, for heaven's sake, as people.

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