Lack of women on Wall Street: Time to change the status quo


On Aug. 18, 1920, after an arduous fight for equality, American women were given the right to vote. While the ratification of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, it also set off a chain reaction that resulted in women tirelessly fighting for equality on other fronts. Today, the focus is not the fight for suffrage, but rather the struggle for political and economic equality. While our ancestors had to fight for their basic freedoms, women today are far more privileged. Yet this does not mean that full equality exists. This is especially visible in the financial industry, where there does not seem to be many women in leadership positions. What exactly is preventing women from climbing the corporate ladder?

Over time, women’s presence in the workplace has increased, however, the number of women in positions of power, especially in Wall Street, is extremely low. In fact, women held only 1% of CEO positions in New York’s Financial District, and according to an article featured in the Wall Street Journal, “female CEOs remain rare.” One may think that since we are living in an increasingly progressive society, this number would be higher. But why isn’t it? 

I think as a society, we have been accustomed to the idea that men “wear the pants” in the workplace and at home. The contrast between the idea of a busy and powerful man being called a “boss” or a “hero” while women of the same professional caliber are simply referred to as offensive slurs, is the prime example of society still being patriarchal and highly misogynistic. 

Women do not have the same opportunities as men, that is just a blatant fact. According to the New York Times, at a 2019 hearing of the House Financial Services Committee (a committee of the House of Representatives that oversees the financial industry of the nation), a group of male banking executives were asked to raise their hands if they believed a woman or person of color would succeed them — none did. Luckily though, in February of 2021, Jane Fraser, a banking executive, will become the first female CEO of Citigroup, the nation’s third largest bank — and it is about time. 

We know that women have the same potential as men, however there seems to be a lack of desire to change the status quo. Fraser’s promotion will hopefully set off a chain reaction, just like the women’s suffrage movement did a century ago. This will allow for a community that prioritizes equality before conformity and hopefully solve systemic discrimination once and for all. 

Moving forward we must do better. As women, we must show that we are capable of doing anything we set our minds to. Together, society must work twice as hard to prove that women can hold and excel in positions of power. It is our responsibility to end prejudices against women and minorities in general, and to provide opportunities based on skills and merit, not on perpetuating the status quo.