Muriel Siebert, the first female seat-holder of the New York Stock Exchange, passed away on Auguast 24 in Manhattan.
In the waning days of 1967, Siebert became the first woman to purchase a membership to the NYSE. Prior to that watershed event, the only women to be seen on the trading floor of the exchange were clerks and pages. But Siebert had long been accustomed to being the only woman in what was unanimously thought of as a “man’s world.” Indeed, from as early on as her undergraduate years in Cleveland in the 1950’s, she found herself to be the only woman enrolled in money and banking courses.
Siebert moved to New York before completing her degree, and eventually found work as a researcher-in-training at Bache & Co., where she honed her analytic skills on entertainment and aviation industry stocks. This formative experience would prove to come in handy later on, during her trading work at Finkle & Co., where she advised clients to purchase Boeing ($BA) prior to the creation of its now-ubiquitous 737 model, and at a time when commercial aviation was still subordinate to rail-based transportation.
By the latter half of the 1960’s, Siebert’s skills were making her $250,000 a year, lower than the earnings of her male colleagues, but still a large sum of money for the time. It was at this time that a client advised her to buy a seat on the NYSE and work for herself, instead of renting her services out to another large firm.
In 1970, her success on Wall Street – she had made over $1 million in sales alone – allowed her the leeway to open her own firm, Muriel Siebert & Co, from where she moved on to become New York’s superintendent of banking. In 1982, she stepped down from that position in search of the Republican nomination to challenge the Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and endeavor that turned out to be unsuccessful.
She never tired, and spent her later years engaged in a variety of activities, including designing personal finance courses for high-school students. She remains an important figure in the world of finance, as well as in the larger context of the society and culture in which she rose to prominence.
Muriel Siebert passed away from complications due to cancer. She was 84 years old.
[Image: Muriel Siebert, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons]