5 incredible women who have made history in the finance world

By HarperLees

Earlier this month, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, an annual campaign designed to honour women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and encourage everyone to take action to drive gender parity.

To mark the occasion, our team decided to pay tribute to some inspirational women from throughout history whose achievements have had a positive impact on the world of finance. Read on to learn their stories.

1. Madam CJ Walker, the first female self-made millionaire

Madam CJ Walker was the first female self-made millionaire according to the Guiness Book of Records. Walker was the daughter of two slaves, so was born into humble beginnings.

In 1906, she founded her business, the Madam CJ Walker Manufacturing Co, selling hair ointment. Within 10 years, she employed 10,000 agents, and trained women all over the country in hairdressing. More than 100 years later, her products are still available in shops today.

As well as running a successful business that made her the first female self-made millionaire, Madam CJ Walker spoke publicly about issues that affected black women at the time. Her brand became synonymous with female empowerment.

2. Janet Hogarth, the first woman recruited by the Bank of England

Janet Hogarth was the first female employee of the Bank of England (BoE). She was appointed in 1894 as the first Superintendent of Women Clerks.

Talking about the environment of the bank when she joined, Hogarth said “Women in ordinary banks were unheard of, and their introduction into the Bank of England, of all places, caused a mild sensation… We were certainly a great innovation and the directors were quite anxious about us.”

Hogarth’s first act was to employ Mary Elsee, a history graduate from Cambridge University, as her assistant. The two would go on to lead a department of female bank clerks who sorted and listed bank notes. The department grew quickly, paving the way for greater equality at the BoE.

3. Dame Marilyn Waring, DNZM, economist

Dame Marilyn Waring has had an impressive career in economics and politics, and as a feminist and human rights activist. She is best known for her work in feminist economics; her 1988 book If Women Counted is considered a revolutionary work in this field.

Her theories and research into invisible labour and the way it disproportionately affects women has influenced economics and governments across the world, including United Nations policies.

4. Baroness Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club

Baroness Helena Morrissey has been named one of the world’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine and twice voted one of the 50 Most Influential People in Finance.

She founded the 30% club in 2010 with the aim of achieving at least 30% representation of women on all boards and C-suites globally. It aims to do this with three strategic pillars:

  • Activate Chairs and CEOs as members
  • Influence those with power to drive change
  • Enable future women leaders.

The club now operates in more than 20 countries across the globe running events and mentoring to make progress with their mission of improving gender equality for women in business.

5. Funlola Ayebae, founder of Black Women in Finance

Funlola Ayebae has built an impressive career in finance, having worked in high-level positions at Barclays and Goldman Sachs, and most recently as West Africa Coverage at J. P. Morgan.

In 2017, she founded Black Women in Finance, an organisation dedicated to supporting black women to build upon an existing career in, or break into, the world of finance. The organisation has helped black women to overcome barriers both personally and professionally, improve their confidence, and drive progress so that they can access a rewarding career in this competitive industry.

Please note

This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.