Did you know that as recently as the early 1970s, a woman’s application for credit could be denied if she didn’t have a male co-signer? Fortunately, women have made many strides toward equality in the past 50 years, including women in banking careers.
Today, women make up a little more than 50 percent of the entry-level banking workforce but less than one-third at the Senior Vice President and C-suite levels. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we wanted to recognize important female banking and finance leaders, and acknowledge the work that still needs to be done.
Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934)
Walker became the first woman founder of a bank in the United States. She was born in Richmond, Virginia to enslaved parents. She was a teacher, but quit working after she was married. Later, she re-started her career with a community insurance company for women. In 1903, she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. She sought to provide access to financial services to women and African Americans. By 1920, more than 600 people obtained the dream of home ownership thanks to her trailblazing efforts.
Grace Stoermer (1887-1961)
Stoermer led the Women’s Banking Department of the Bank of Italy, located in California. It was the first time in the United States that women were permitted to manage their own accounts without the inclusion of a spouse or a male relative. The department was staffed entirely by women, which also led to new possibilities for career advancement. She was also very involved with the women’s suffrage movement and served as the Secretary of State in California in 1921.
Muriel Siebert (1928-2013)
Siebert earned the nickname “The First Woman of Finance.” She was born in Ohio, and after visiting the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), she decided that she would work there one day. She eventually moved to New York City to fulfill her goal. At the time, women working on Wall Street were typically limited to being secretaries and support staff. She was able to obtain employment as a research trainee. On December 28, 1967, Siebert became the first woman to own a seat on the NYSE.
Notable Women in Banking Today
Some recent visionary changemakers include Janet Yellen, who became the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve in 2014, and the first woman appointed to lead the U.S. Treasury Department in 2021. In fact, Yellen is the first person in history to lead the Federal Reserve and the U.S Treasury, and the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup, who is the first female chief executive of a U.S.-based global bank.
Other women to note in the field of finance are Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak, Co-CEOs of Consumer and Community Banking for JPMorgan Chase; Andrea Smith, Chief Administrative Officer for Bank of America; and Kate Quinn, Vice Chair, Chief Administrative Officer, for U.S. Bancorp.
New Covenant Trust Company is committed to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion. We understand the value the contributions women in finance bring to our organization. I personally feel fortunate to work alongside exceptional women leaders every day, including our Chief Operations Officer, Shonita Bossier, Vice President and Director of Trust Relationship Services, Kim Pryor, Vice President and Director of Philanthropic Services, Carla Dobson, to name a few.
During Women’s History Month, it is with much gratitude that we recognize the accomplishments of all the women trailblazers in banking and finance. In alignment with the Church, we pledge to continue to do our part to cultivate a culture of equity and inclusion in all that we do.