A Wall Street Pioneer

Muriel Siebert was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She wanted a career in business and enrolled at Western Reserve University. She was the only woman in her classes. When her father was diagnosed with cancer she had to leave college.

She always had a dream of working on Wall Street, but without a degree she knew the odds were long. When she was able to resume her life, she did go to New York to seek her future. She lied that she had a college degree and got a job as a research analyst for an investment firm.

Muriel was constantly paid less than men so she changed jobs often to earn more money. When a friend advised her to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), she ran into additional challenges. She needed a man to sponsor her since there were no women on the NYSE. Nine men rejected her before she could find support.

Her next challenge was to raise the funds to buy the seat. It took her two years to convince a bank to loan her the money she needed. When she created Muriel Siebert and Company, she was the only woman out of 1,365 traders to have a seat. Her firm did well and the Governor of New York asked her to become the first woman to become Superintendent of Banking in New York. During a time when banks across the country were failing, none of the banks in New York failed.

Muriel became an outspoken advocate for women and minorities in the financial industry. She was an early advocate for diversity and inclusion. Muriel created the Siebert Entrepreneurial Philanthropic Plan in which she shared half of the profit from the new securities her firm underwrote with charities.

While the NYSE was slow to accept women into its ranks, Siebert Hall became the first room in the NYSE to ever be named for individual. While Muriel was unable to complete her undergraduate degree, she was awarded 17 honorary doctorate degrees.

Hidden heroes are often pioneers for their race, gender, or other aspects of their birth. Their persistence creates a sense of hope for others with similar backgrounds. Muriel not only broke the gender barrier in the financial industry but she became an enabler for others. There are currently (2022), four women as active traders in the NYSE. More importantly there is now at least one woman on the Board of Directors of every S&P 500 company.

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“You create opportunities by performing, not complaining.” – Muriel Siebert

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