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.
ForeWord Review of Wall Street Woman
A well-researched and enlightening account...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
Bloomberg Businessweek Review of Wall Street Woman
Fisher shows how women who made it on Wall Street deftly deployed their supposedly innate risk-averse qualities to stay afloat long term...[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
Ms. Fisher photo by Gianna Biscotini
Melissa Fisher is a cultural anthropologist who writes on finance, feminism, and the workplace. Her second book, Wall Street Women (Duke University Press, 2012), tracks how the first generation of Wall Street women simultaneously built professional careers in finance while constructing market feminisms (1956-2010). She is working on a third book about gender, sexuality, diversity, and inclusion in finance and film. Based on fieldwork in the United States and Europe, it focuses on how social movements (such as Me Too) shape individual careers as well as organizational life and policymaking.
Fisher has given numerous key notes and conference talks nationally and internationally. Her book on Wall Street women received over twenty-five reviews in academic journals. Her research has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, The Guardian, The Times of India, CNBC, NPR and the BBC. She has written for publications such as Bloomberg and Bill Moyer’s Group Think. She has appeared on television and was featured in the Emmy nominated 2014 PBS documentary Makers: Women in Business.She also played an advisory role in the first female financial thriller film: Equity, a Sony Classic Pictures release (2016).
Fisher was most recently the Laurits Andersen Professor with Special Responsibilities in Business and Organizational Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. She has also been a faculty member in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University and the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University. She is currently a member of the Women Creating Change Leadership Council at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference. As a US Delegate to the Women’s 20 in Argentina (2018) and Japan (2019), she advises on issues such as gender and financial inclusion. Fisher earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University and her B.A. in English at Barnard College.