It’s time to take a moment and celebrate the first women nearest to Dealstruck’s hearts – the first women of finance.
The first females in the world of sports, arts, and science are legendary, but these savvy ladies fought just as hard to bust through the glass ceiling and earn their places in history.
Introducing the Amelia Earharts of the financial world.
Madam C.J. Walker didn’t just have one hell of a name. She was also the first female self-made millionaire. She earned her cool million by selling cosmetics to African American women. In her own words, “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From the washtub I was promoted to the cook kitchen and from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations. I have built my own factory on my own ground.”
As of February, 2016, there are 167 female billionaires in the world (compared to 1,810 male ones, according to Forbes). The first, as you know, was Muriel Siebert, but the youngest female self-made billionaire is more recent. Elizabeth Holmes believes there should be a blood test available in every drug store. She founded Theranos in 2003, which makes an easy, needle-free way to draw and test blood.
Other notable female billionaires include Christy Walton (of the Wal-Mart Waltons), Liliane Bettencourt of L’Oreal, and arguably the most famous female billionaire, Oprah Winfrey.
Female Leaders in Finance and Industry
In 1809 Mary Kies invented a method of weaving straw with silk, for which she was the first woman to receive a patent, and 1933 saw the first female member of the presidential cabinet when FDR realized what an awesome idea it would be to appoint Frances Perkins to be Secretary of Labor.
Thanks to the Coca-Cola Company, and her own qualifications and hard work, Lettie Pate became the first female director of a major American corporation in 1934.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) finally saw a rise in female leadership in the second half of the 20th century. Its first female member, Muriel Siebert, joined in 1967. (She was also one of the first women to serve as Superintendent of Banks, and one of the first people to open a discount brokerage. Siebert also holds the ribbon for the first female self-made billionaire.) In 1977, Juanita Kreps became the first female NYSE director and the first Secretary of Commerce (yes, both in the same year).
The first Nobel Prize in Economics goes to Elinor Ostrom in 2009. Five years later, Janet Yellen became the first chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board in 2014.
As of 2014, women make up 30% of business owners, owning 9.1 million businesses, employing 7.9 million workers, and generating $1.4 trillion in revenues. Those numbers are growing faster in numbers and employment than any other demographic.
The important thing about being a “first” is opening the door to a “second” and “third”, until seeing women killing it in leadership roles becomes unremarkable. Let’s go, ladies!