What Women Investors Can Learn from Endurance Training

March 16, 2019

Running a marathon is the ultimate endurance test.

In honor or Women’s History Month, let’s take a moment to celebrate the first woman to challenge the belief that women are too fragile for long-distance running. In 1967, Kathrine “Kathy” Switzer made history when she became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entrant, bib number 261. She registered for the all-male marathon by using her initials and concealing her gender. Once the officials realized there was a woman in the race, they tried to remove her. They insisted that women were too fragile to endure the 26-mile event.

But she stayed the course. When Kathy crossed the finish line that day, she boldly pushed the needle for women’s acceptance in endurance sports. Beginning in 1970, women were finally allowed to participate in marathons. Kathy then went on to form the “261 Fearless” running club to empower and inspire female runners around the world. Kathy’s bravery and persistence started a movement that has created a deep pool of women distance runners. While there are still more male runners today, women are training and competing at the Olympic level right alongside their male counterparts.

So why is institutional investing like endurance training?

Like the marathon world, the New York Stock Exchange was originally a male domain where women were seen as inadequate—despite ample evidence from the earliest days of our nation’s history.

When the New York Stock Exchange was formed by twenty-four men in 1792, women investors like Abigail Adams quietly began buying up Liberty Bonds right alongside men. During the American Revolution, women were encouraged to be caregivers. But through personal necessity and patriotic duty, women nonetheless ran businesses and managed household finances.

The active role they took in their personal finances raised their confidence and led to financial empowerment.

Personal necessity fostering women’s financial empowerment is a recurrent theme in our country’s history. For example, during the Industrial Revolution, women expanded into commercial banking. In 1921 women formed the Association of Bank Women and formed the Women’s Bond Club. A busy year! Then, during WWII, women answered the country’s call to duty and filled empty positions on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. But just like Rosie the Riveter, these women investors were pulled from their positions when the men returned home from war.

The women’s liberation movement of the 1960s brought more women to Wall Street. In 1967, Muriel Siebert became the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, and the momentum of women investors on Wall Street continued to climb throughout the 1970s and 1980s despite remaining a “grin and bear it” system female participants.

Now, well into the 21st century, women continue to speak out and advocate for gender equality in finance.

A recent move in the right direction happened in 2018, when Stacey Cunningham became the first woman to be appointed as president of the New York Stock Exchange. Also in 2018, Lauren Simmons became the only full-time woman trader at the New York Stock Exchange.

While the financial industry in this country is a long way from gender equality, the roots of women on Wall Street run deep. Just like when Kathy banished the belief that women were too fragile for endurance running when she completed in the Boston Marathon, it’s time to dispel outdated notions of female inadequacy in the realm of investing. Once and for all

Forging Ahead as Women Investors

We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that women make excellent investors. So it’s important that we educate ourselves and be involved in our investments and overall finances.

Doing independent research and working with a financial adviser is an important part of this process.

Investing, like training for a marathon, will present challenges and setbacks, but working toward accomplishing your goal is a reward in itself. Just like Kathy and the women of Wall Street discovered, finding the fortitude to challenge outdated assumptions about women is deeply empowering and can help level the playing field.

If you have additional questions about finding financial resources or finding the right financial advisor for you, contact SWM for more information.

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