Monday is Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that finally gave women the right to vote.
It is a bittersweet moment to honor a true hero of women’s equality, trailblazing banker Muriel Siebert. Known to one and all as “Mickie,” Siebert was the first woman member of the New York Stock Exchange, a brokerage founder and the head of the first woman’s bank.
In her autobiography Changing the Rules, Mickie recalled, “I had a dream of earning of earning the same pay as my male colleagues. So I asked a friend what large firm would pay me equally and he said that the only way it would happen was if I bought my own seat on the New York Stock Exchange.”
She overcame decades of discrimination, both overt and some much more subtle, partly by being as scrapping and brash as her male counterparts. Siebert was always supportive of other women, while warning that it was too soon to celebrate their progress on Wall Street.
At a luncheon in her honor in 1992, she said, “Firms are doing what they have to do, legally. But women are coming into Wall Street in large numbers–and they still are not making partner and are not getting into the positions that lead to the executive suites. There’s still an old-boy network. You just have to keep fighting.”
Muriel Siebert lost her fight with cancer on Saturday. She was 80 years old.