Women Pioneers in Finance

Women Pioneers in Finance
These women did much more than break through glass ceilings. They transformed paradigms. The results of their courage has still failed to manifest into full equality for women. Nevertheless, without the legacies they created, it would be a very different world for women today.

The World of Finance: A Closed World
First of all, it is important to remember that the world of finance was closed to women for a very long time. The early women pioneers had to involve themselves in subtle and oftentimes secretive ways. However, the impact they made was anything but subtle.

Abigail Adams
The first woman to be involved in the world of finance was Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams. Abigail Adams sensed an opportunity and began trading in bonds before her husband became president. He was not very supportive, but her intuition told her it was a smart move. The results proved her right. Adams traded in government-issued bonds during the Revolutionary War. She did quite well, earning 24% in a single year. Compare this to the 2% their farm was earning and you can see that Abigail Adams was right on the mark.
Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull may have been the first to disrupt the world of finance by opening her own brokerage house in 1870. Woodhull opened the brokerage house with her sister and it was named Woodhill, Clafton, and Co. The office was right on Broad Street. Born in Ohio in 1870, Woodhull was a disrupter on many levels. She was considered by many to be a political radical, opening and running her own newspaper company too. Woodhull was also the first woman to run for President.
Isabel Benham
In the 1930s, the Wall Street doors creaked open a bit and women began to find some small opportunities to join their male counterparts. Around this time, Isabel Benham joined the Wall Street firm of R.W. Pressprich & Co. as a bond statistician and analyst, becoming the first woman to work on Wall Street. It helped that she possessed a tremendous knowledge of the railroad industry. Since the world at large was still not embracing women, Benham never used her first name when signing correspondence or company documents. Thirty years later, in 1964 she became the first female partner in the firm, in fact, the first in any Wall Street firm. Benham would go on to gain great respect for her strategic thinking and ability to read the market. However, in her eyes, she was simply someone with a keen ability to build successful rail lines.
Muriel Siebert
The first woman to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange was Muriel Siebert. It was not without a struggle. A candidate needs at least two sponsors and the first nine that Siebert approached refused to sponsor her. She succeeded with two and took her seat in 1967, an act that would not be repeated for another ten years. Siebert was also the first woman to be appointed Superintendent of Banking, appointed by N.Y. Governor Hugh Carey in 1977. She held the position during a particularly rocky time for the banking industry.
Grace Hyslop
Grace Hyslop was the first woman to hold a seat on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Hyslop grew up on a farm in Nebraska. Graduating from school at the age of 12, she became a teacher. Wanting to improve her income, she went to the University of Nebraska to study accounting. While there she met her husband who had founded several businesses. One of these was a poultry and egg business. And, believe it or not, this was how Hyslop would ultimately become a pioneer in the world of finance.
Egg futures were a hot commodity on the CME. Since her husband was an expert in the business, he applied for and was accepted to sit on the Exchange. In 1960, he died and Grace Hyslop applied to take his seat. She was already quite an expert in financial matters, working alongside her husband throughout the time he was sitting on the Exchange. It took a month, but ultimately her application was accepted and she took her place among the 500 men sitting on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. However, still discriminating against women, Grace was not allowed to be on the actual floor. She had to strategize trades from her home while her son was physically on the trading floor executing his mother’s directives.
Today, if you peruse the Forbes lists you will find a global network of women leaders in the world of finance. In every sector from traditional banks to peer-to-peer lending, women are leading the way and continuing to disrupt old paradigms.

Reprinted courtesy of Forbes
By Dvorah Rut 



NCUA Your savings federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.


Unauthorized attempts to upload information and/or change information on this website is strictly prohibited and are subject to prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and Title 18 U.S.C. Sec.1001 and 1030.

If you are using a screen reader or other auxiliary aid and are having problems using this website, please call 888-336-2700 for assistance. Also, all products, services and information available on this website are also available at any of
our physical branches, where we would be happy to assist you further. Click here to view our Accessibility Statement.

*APY = Annual Percentage Yield. Paid and compounded quarterly. Dividend rates are determined by the principal balance when your certificate is opened. Dividend payments will not affect the dividend rate during the term even if the minimum balance for the next tier is met. Rates subject to change without notice at any time. Penalties may apply for early withdrawals. DFCU Financial deposit products are insured by the NCUA.

DFCU Financial - Copyright © 2023 - Dearborn, Michigan - All rights reserved

While the DFCU Financial Board of Directors intends to pay Cash Back every year, and has done so since 2007, Cash Back is not guaranteed and will depend on our financial performance and other factors. Annual Cash Back payments are limited to an aggregate of $10,000 for each tax-reported owner. The IRS requires that Cash Back for an IRA be paid to the same IRA, and that it be open when Cash Back is deposited. Cash Back to Commercial / Business Banking members is subject to additional terms. Anyone who causes DFCU Financial a loss for any reason is not eligible for Cash Back.