Women in Finance

Girl Power: The Pivotal and Growing Role of Women in the Financial World

"When it comes to thinking about women in powerful positions, we are too often blinded by the daggers of the mind, infected by the malignant mind bugs that mire us in the prejudices of the past." - IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde

Women have it tough. Not only do they have to give birth, but for as long as anyone can remember, females have been subject to inequality when it comes to the workplace.

Of course, as time has progressed women have stood up for their rights in more ways than one, squashing gender pay gaps and becoming hugely influential in the world of commerce and finance.

And this should be celebrated.

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A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute discovered that advancing women's equality in the workplace will serve to boost the global economy by a whopping $12 trillion dollars. That's a lot of dough.

Even after decades of progress in making women equal partners with men both economically and socially, the gap between them remains significant. But it has changed, and it will continue to change for the better.

8 significant shifts in women’s rights

In today's world many women are killing it financially, and as things progress, more money-making talent will emerge; the kind of talent that will boost the world's economy and change the way we think, feel, and do business.

Before we look at women in the present day, let's look back a little (or a lot)...

Ancient Egypt, 3100 BCE and beyond: Women hold equal financial rights as men. According to scholar Janet Johnson: “Egyptian women were able to acquire, to own, and to dispose of property (both real and personal) in their name. They could enter into contracts in their name; they could initiate civil court cases and could, likewise, be sued; they could serve as witnesses in court cases; they could serve on juries, and they could witness legal documents.” But, because of the social factors and supposed etiquette of the time, women didn't often exercise these rights.

England, 1100s: In slight contrast to Ancient Egypt, amendments to English common law - a coupling of Anglo-Saxon and Norman traditions - led to the creation of coverture. This notion is the belief that married men and women are one financial entity. As a result, married women couldn't own property, run a tavern or sue in court. Widows and spinsters could enjoy financial rights of this type, but as mentioned, not married women. As time progressed, coverture became corrupted into the view that women are the property of their husbands.

USA, 1839: Women in Mississippi were given the right to own a property in their own name. Mississippi was the first state to pass this law, as such becoming somewhat of a financial pioneer of its time.

USA, 1862: The US Homestead Act made it simpler for single, widowed and divorced women to claim land in their own names.

USA, 1908: Oregon limited the working day for women to 10 hours, implying that women were too fragile to work much longer, or they were needed in the homestead. A regressive law that didn't last.

USA, 1924: Wyoming elected the country's first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross.

UK, 1986: The UK allowed women to retire at the same age as men as well as the right to take well-compensated factory night shifts.

Norway, 2008: Norway passed a rule that required companies to ensure that 40% of its board members are women.

USA, 2014: Almost two-thirds of minimum-wage workers are women and in a bid to rightly hike up the minimum wage across the country, the “Fight for 15” movement was launched. Seattle raised its minimum wage to $15, and several other cities and states raised their minimum wage ceilings also, but, many still lag behind, and the federal minimum wage is still fell at $7.25 per hour or a poverty-level wage. Minimum-wage bills languished in both the House and Senate.

As you can see, although an incredible amount of progress has been made for women's social and financial rights, there has been a lot of flip-flopping over the years.

It's also worth mentioning, like so many others issues in the world, the fight to secure the equal rights of women shouldn't have been needed - we should all have been considered equals in the first place. But, nonetheless, these problems have never kept a good woman down. Let's celebrate some of the world's biggest success stories today...

Women rocking the financial world

Among many other strong female role models, these three fantastic females are rocking it in today's cutthroat financial world. Watch out, fellas…

Mary Barra, CEO and Chairman of GM

Boasting a market value of around $49,345 million, Mary steered GM through the ignition switch crisis that hit in 2014, and made the difficult decision to end operations in Russia; she also invested in ridesharing company Lyft among other accolades.

Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek

As the CEO of Singapore-based investment company Temasek, Ching is a female financial powerhouse, overseeing a growing portfolio worth over $153 billion. Her major investments include Lloyds, Alibaba, and Singapore Airlines.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah needs little introduction - and we couldn't not include her in the mix. Not only is she an inspiration to women everywhere, but she is still one of the world's most powerful women both socially and economically. Presenter, actress publisher - and philanthropist who has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes.

"You can either see yourself as a wave in the ocean or you can see yourself as the ocean." - Oprah


The road to unconditional women's rights is still a little rocky, but it is paved with gold. More positive changes are coming, and as the playing field levels, we expect to see even more incredible things from incredible women. Girl power.

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