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Melissa Fisher: Wall Street Woman

October 25, 2012

Students, staff and alumni joined Melissa Fisher, author of Wall Street Women as she told the story of the first generation of women to establish themselves as professionals on Wall Street. Since these women, who began their careers in the 1960s, faced blatant discrimination and barriers to advancement, they created formal and informal associations to bolster one another's careers. In this important historical ethnography, Melissa S. Fisher drew upon fieldwork, archival research, and extensive interviews with a very successful cohort of first-generation Wall Street women. She described their professional and political associations, most notably the Financial Women's Association of New York City and the Women's Campaign Fund, a bipartisan group formed to promote the election of pro-choice women.

Fisher charts the evolution of the women's careers, the growth of their political and economic clout, changes in their perspectives and the cultural climate on Wall Street, and their experiences of the 2008 financial collapse. While most of the pioneering subjects of Wall Street Women did not participate in the women's movement as it was happening in the 1960s and 1970s, Fisher argues that they did produce a "market feminism" which aligned liberal feminist ideals about meritocracy and gender equity with the logic of the market.

photo: wall street bull
Photo: Wall Street Women
photo: wall street street sign

Ms. Fisher photo by Gianna Biscotini

Photo: Melissa Fisher

Ethnographers in all fields can also benefit from Fisher’s approach, which consists of a combination of individual interviews, observation of and participation in association meetings where the women networked, and a final group discussion.”—Maria Siano, ForeWord Reviews

[W]e get the pleasure of hearing conversations that normally take place behind closed doors. When the women dish about the guys in the office, they really dish.”—Elizabeth Dwoskin, Bloomberg Businessweek

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