Wall Street Women

Melissa S. Fisher. Duke Univ., $22.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-8223-5345-4
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, even as the media celebrated women as potential saviors of the economy, the financial world had removed women from senior Wall Street jobs. Most of the women who broke through glass ceilings to become leaders in finance were gone by the time of the crisis, not necessarily of their own volition, including the subjects of this lively and provocative historical ethnography. Georgetown University anthropologist Fisher, co-editor of Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy, combines the detached curiosity of an anthropologist studying the folkways of a tribal village with a sure grasp of history, politics, and economics, as well as an affectionate regard for her subjects, a small group of highly successful women who entered Wall Street in the ’60s. “[I]nfluenced by the tenets of liberal feminism,” they advanced their careers by playing on traditional assumptions about women—cautious, caring, family-oriented—that had previously been used to exclude them from leadership roles, and recast them in market terms: risk-aware, value-oriented long-term investors. By the ’90s they became an active force in politics, openly supporting pro-choice women running for office. Fisher’s argument about the emergence of “market feminism,” a synthesis of liberal feminist values with neo-liberalist ideology that could provide new opportunities for women on Wall Street, is worthy of readers’ attention. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
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