Muriel Siebert, a pioneering force for women in finance, died Sunday at 84 from complications of cancer. Born September 12, 1928 to a Jewish family in Cleveland, OH, Siebert, known as Mickie, became the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and as well as the first woman to own a brokerage firm. After moving to New York in 1954 with “a used car and $500,” she got a job on Wall Street but quickly realized she was only making 60 percent of what men with the same job were getting.
She decided to buy her own seat on the New York Stock Exchange, something no woman had done before. Two years later, on December 28, 1967, after finding a sponsor and procuring a $300,000 bank loan, she was finally elected to the stock exchange. Siebert went on to start her own discount brokerage firm, Muriel Siebert & Company, become New York State’s first female superintendent of banking, direct New York City’s Municipal Credit Union, and campaign, unsuccessfully, for a Senate seat.
According to the New York Times, Siebert encountered anti-Semitism as well as sexism on Wall Street. Still, she remained committed to supporting other women in the field:
Ms. Siebert was known, to her delight, as a scrapper. She donated millions of dollars from her brokerage and securities underwriting business to help other women get their start in business and finance.
When she was honored for her efforts in 1992, Ms. Siebert used the luncheon celebration to warn that it was still too soon for women to declare victory in the battle for equality on Wall Street.
Siebert continued to be a respected source on financial issues. 92Y posted audio from Siebert’s March 19, 1990 discussion with Leonard Silk, in which they talk about the 1987 stock market crash. And here’s a clip from Siebert’s segment on the PBS ‘Makers: Women Who Make America’ series, in which she discusses her early days on Wall Street.
Rachel Sklar notes that the equality that Siebert so publicly fought for (“She remained the only female member for almost a decade, having to go to the mat for simple privileges enjoyed by her male counterparts like entry to private executive social clubs and having a ladies’ bathroom conveniently located on one’s office floor”) continues to elude many women on Wall Street today: “As Muriel Siebert said, there’s still an old-boy network. You just have to keep fighting.”