The first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, Muriel Siebert has rightly earned her title as The First Lady of Wall Street. A groundbreaking female figure in Finance, Siebert was a dedicated advocate for women and minorities in industry and worked tirelessly to promote financial literacy for all. Despite never graduating from university, Siebert worked her way up the ranks not only to break into what was a spectacularly male dominated workplace, but to eventually become Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York, during which time not a single bank failed under her. Definitely recommend watching this quick interview on MAKERS.
Muriel Faye “Mickie” Siebert, an inspiring woman who firmly believed in the truth that companies can never reach their full potential if they “limit their talent pool to the male 50 percent of the population”.
Obit of the Day: 1st Woman With a Seat on the NYSE
Muriel Siebert came to New York City from Ohio with “$500, a Studebaker, and a dream.” She was hired as a research trainee at Bache & Company in 1954. Her talent with financial analysis not only earned her a sizeable paycheck but also the respect of men throughout the financial industry, including the CEO of Eastern AIrlines, World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker.
By 1967, Ms. Siebert was earning $20,000 a day and wondered what firm to join. A colleague told her to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. No woman ever had.
After checking the NYSE constitution she discovered that there was no rule against women joining the “Big Board.” All she needed was a sponsor, a letter of financial backing from a bank, and $445,000 ($3.1 million in present-day dollars).
It took her nine tries to find a man willing to support her bid. It took two years to earn the bank letter. In a ridiculous catch-22, banks would not provide her with a loan without proof of NYSE membership and the NYSE would not allow her to buy a seat without the loan.
On December 28, 1967 she took her place on the world’s largest stock exchange. “There were 1,365 men and me.”
Note: It would be more than a decade before another woman was allowed to join the NYSE.
Ms. Siebert was not done blazing trails. She would fight against discrimination in private clubs after New York’s Union League Club would not allow her to use the elevator. (In a sign of the respect she earned, her luncheon colleagues after hearing that she had to walk through the club’s kitchen to get upstairs, followed her out of the club by the same means after the meal.) She also challenged the NYSE to place a women’s bathroom on the same floor as the restaurant where she regularly ate - or she would rent a port-a-potty and place it in the hallway. They built the bathroom.
In 1969 she made NYSE history again by opening up the first woman-led brokerage firm, Muriel Siebert & Co.
Ms. Siebert, who was the first woman to serve as New York State’s superintendent of banking, died on August 24, 2013 at the age of 80.