Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Cover of the book 'Wall Street Women' by Melissa S Fisher
Cover of the book 'Wall Street Women' by Melissa S Fisher

When the glass ceiling nearly broke

The Life: Book review: Melissa Fisher's Wall Street Women documents the careers of the female pioneers in the world of finance.

After the financial crisis of 2008, the women of Wall Street found themselves in a contradictory situation.

Academics and journalists asked whether the world of finance would be in such a mess if more women had held senior leadership positions rather than the "rich, white middle-age guys" who destroyed it with their greed and risk taking.

The crisis seemed to offer the opportunity for women to assume a bigger role in directing and repairing the industry.At the same time however, senior women, including three women believed to be on the brink of securing chief executive posts, were abruptly fired: Zoe Cruzat at Morgan Stanley, Erin Callan at Lehman Brothers and Sallie Krawcheck at Citigroup.

The dismissals shattered the dreams of the first pioneering generation of women on Wall Street that one of their own was about to become the first female boss of a major financial firm.

That first generation of women - many of whom were coming up towards retirement when the financial crisis erupted - began to fret about leaving Wall Street "without leaving a legacy". Around that time, the academic Melissa Fisher met Constance Burk, one of the first women on Wall Street. Ms Fisher had started following such women for her academic research in the mid-90s and had continued to track the careers of the elite bunch that became very successful in what had been - and in many ways remains - a very male profession.

"Maybe we need to get everybody together and sort of figure out next steps," Ms Burk suggested, referring to her female peers. And so in 2010 many of those pioneers met to discuss their past, present and future.

This book tells their stories.

It touches on feminism, networking groups, mentors, meritocracy in the markets and the concern now held by many of the older generation that the younger generation of women are complacent and have an attitude of entitlement.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Would you like it in blue? An Afghan shopkeeper shows a burqa to a customer at a bazaar in Herat. (Aref Karimi / AFP /  April 13, 2014)

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 24, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 24, 2014.

 That's asking a lot: this four-bedroom duplex penthouse apartment  at Marina Residence in Dubai is for sale with an asking price of Dh15.7 million. (Courtesy Better Homes / April 2014)

In pictures: Palm Jumeirah penthouse listed for Dh15.7 million

A four-bedroom duplex penthouse in Marina Residence 3 on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah is on the market for Dh15.7 million.

 Room with a view from one of the 21 duplex penthouses located in the Gate Towers sky-bridge. The sports courts and swimming pools can be seen below. Courtesy Alda

In pictures: Aldar’s Gate Towers Penthouse Collection on Reem Island

Aldar launched its Gate Towers Penthouse Collection at Cityscape Abu Dhabi. The launch features 21 penthouses spanning the skybridge, with each having a private indoor pool and incredible views.

 Marina Square apartments Reem Island: Q1 2% rise. Studio - Dh65-68,000. 1BR - Dh75-95,000. 2BR - Dh110-145,000. 3BR - Dh170-190,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 no change. Sammy Dallal / The National

In pictures: Where Abu Dhabi rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Abu Dhabi have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National