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On this date in 1967, Muriel Siebert, age 35, became the first woman member of the New York Stock Exchange (alongside 1,365 men), after campaigning for months to overcome sexist obstructions. In 1975, Siebert & Company became the nation’s first discount brokerage house, democratizing Wall Street investing by greatly lowering the fees involved. Today, more than half of U.S. households participate in stock ownership (primarily through mutual funds and employee benefit funds), and about twenty percent own individual equities. Siebert had no college degree but eventually was awarded eighteen honorary doctorates. In 1977, she was named Superintendent of Banks for New York, with oversight of all of the banks in the state — none of which failed during her five-year tenure, despite failures nationwide. Politically, she was a conservative who ran unsuccessfully for her party’s nomination in a bid to defeat Daniel Patrick Moynihan for his Senate seat. An activist on behalf of women in business and politics, Siebert was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. She died at 84 in New York City in 2013.
“When a door is hard to open, and if nothing else works, sometimes you just have to rear back and kick it open.” —Muriel Siebert
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.