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Women's Equality Day: Notable Women in Financial History

Women’s Equality Day is Friday, August 26th. Tally honors powerful women in financial history in this round-up feature.

August 26, 2022

For much of recorded history, women have fought hard to earn equal treatment in society. In many areas of the world, the fight continues to this day. 

Even in the West, equality isn’t yet a true reality — not to mention when it comes to finances. In 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned, a phenomenon referred to as the “gender pay gap.” 

The financial world is predominantly staffed by men, although this is starting to change. In honor of Women’s Equality Day, Tally would like to recognize several pioneering women who’ve contributed to the fight for women’s equality in the financial realm. 

What is Women’s Equality Day?

Since 1973, August 26th has been officially recognized as Women’s Equality Day, a national holiday dedicated to honoring women and the fight for equality. 

The date marks the official certification of the 19th Amendment, which, in 1920, gave women the right to vote in the United States. The Amendment was passed on August 19th, 1920, but wasn’t certified until the 26th. 

The purpose of Women’s Equality Day is to celebrate the passage of the 19th amendment — while also recognizing that the movement for true gender equality still goes on. 

Notable women in finance

For Women’s Equality Day, we wish to honor several pioneering women in finance who changed the financial landscape for women. While we would love to honor every woman who’s fought for equality over the years, as a financial company, we thought we’d focus on powerful women in the financial world. 

Maggie Lena Walker (1864–1934)

Maggie Lena Walker was the first female bank president. She chartered St. Luke’s Penny Savings Bank in 1903 and served as the bank’s president until 1934. 

Walker was the first female African American to serve as president of a bank. She broke gender and race norms by being a prominent public figure in the world of finance. 

Walker also helped advance the goals of women and African Americans in American society. She was an activist against segregation and gender discrimination and helped make banking services more accessible to underserved communities in the area. 

Muriel Siebert (1928–2013)

Muriel Siebert is sometimes referred to as the “First Woman of Finance.” She was the first female to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. When she joined in 1967, she was the only female among 1,365 male NYSE members. 

Siebert was also a vocal advocate for women’s equality in the financial world. She told her own story of consistently being paid less than men throughout her career and advocated change. She opened her own brokerage firm and later served as the New York State superintendent of banking. 

Janet Yellen (1946–current)

Janet Yellen is a financial expert and current head of the U.S. Treasury Department. She has achieved the highest positions in American public finance, serving as the first female representative in each case. She served as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve from 2014-2018, as well as Secretary of the Department of Treasury (2021-current). 

Yellen has shown women what it’s possible to achieve in finance. She’s a well-respected public figure and has successfully guided the country through immense financial challenges. 

Madam C.J. Walker (1867–1919)

Madam C.J. Walker was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the first self-made millionaire in America. Walker founded a hair care product company that became wildly successful in direct marketing. 

Walker found fantastic financial success relatively early in her life, and she used her newfound fortune for good. She donated substantial sums to the NAACP, the Black YMCA, and many other charities. She also set up scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute. 

Gita Gopinath (1971–current)

Gita Gopinath is the First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She previously served as the IMF’s chief economist — the first female to hold that position. 

Gopinath’s work seeks to help guide the IMF toward its core mission: Achieving and maintaining sustainable economic growth and prosperity for 190 countries involved in the Fund. The IMF aims to help stabilize the global economy by providing policy advice, emergency financial assistance and capacity development for member nations. Gopinath’s work as a managing director is key to the IMF’s global mission. 

Sallie Krawcheck (1964–current)

Sallie Krawcheck is the co-founder of Ellevest, a digital financial adviser and investment platform designed specifically for women. Krawcheck saw a gap in how women manage their money and stepped in to fill it. 

In her work at Ellevest, Krawcheck’s goal is to help even the investment gap. On average, women tend to invest less than men which puts them at a disadvantage when saving for goals like retirement. Ellevest is a financial company for women, by women, and helps women of all ages work toward their financial goals. 

Before founding Ellevest, Krawcheck served as CEO of Merrill Lynch, Citi Private Bank, and others. She’s often known as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. 

Wrapping up

These are just a few of the remarkable women who’ve contributed to women’s equality in the financial world. If you know someone who’s an advocate for gender equality, we encourage you to honor them this August 26th. 

If you’ve been reflecting on how to improve your own financial situation, you may be wondering where to start. While saving for the future is important, paying off high-interest debt may be your top priority. 

If credit card debt is holding you back, check out Tally Tally is an app that helps qualifying applicants consolidate credit card balances into a lower-interest line of credit. Learn how Tally works here.

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