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4 inspiring women in financial history

Women in financial history

When we think of female empowerment, many of our minds shift to the more social aspects. While social advancement is certainly something to celebrate, it’s also important to recognize the fiscal advancement and empowerment of women in society.

For younger generations, it’s strange to think of a world where women didn’t have the capability to be financially independent. But, it is a relatively recent thing.

It was only in the 1960s that a woman could open a bank account without the permission of her husband. With a little over 50 years between this historic decision and now, women have made strides in the economic world.

Financial equality hasn’t been a single-handed job, and there’s still more work to do. It’s not happening overnight, either.

From each generation, though, there have been major strides made. There are standout women who have contributed to female financial empowerment. This post highlights four inspiring women in financial history, and how they’ve paved the way for the modern woman.

1. Henrietta Green

Way before we learned about Jordan Belfort and The Wolf of Wall Street, there was Henrietta (or Henny) Green. This New York-born financier was dubbed “The Witch of Wall Street,” and was the wealthiest woman in the United States during the Gilded Age.

However, despite being a multi-millionaire, Henrietta strayed from any public acknowledgment of wealth. She lived with her children in inexpensive homes, wore shabby and older dresses, and even sought medical attention from charity hospitals.

Looking back, we can admire Henrietta’s dedication to saving, her financial smarts, and the fact that she didn’t feel the need to flaunt her money. Thanks to leaders like Henrietta, women can be inspired to pursue — and thrive in — the business world.

2. Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) was born to previously enslaved parents in the mid-1800s. After moving to Denver, Colorado with just $1.05 to her name, Walker sold hair-care products made specifically for Black women. Soon after, Madam C.J. Walker became the first-ever Black woman billionaire.

Walker was also a known advocate and philanthropist. She donated to many educational and Black charities, provided money for scholarships, and constantly promoted female empowerment in the workplace.

In fact, Walker stipulated her company’s charter that only a woman could serve as president. This was extremely progressive, being that jobs for Black women during this time were far and few between.

Walker is a great example of a financially empowered woman. She changed the game when it came to the haircare industry and invented solutions for women who needed it. Not to mention, she used her fortune to give back to the community and provide opportunities for minority women.

3. Katharine Graham

Careers in journalism are typically seen as a tough choice for a future. However, Katharine Graham proves that becoming successful in the journalism field is 100% possible.

After graduation from the University of Chicago in 1938, Graham began working for the San Francisco News and The Washington Post. In 1963, Graham became the president of the Washington Post Company.

Because of Graham’s leadership, The Washington Post garnered a reputation as a hard-hitting journalistic platform: notably, investigating the 1972–1975 Watergate scandal. During this time, Graham took over as the chief executive officer of the Washington Post Company, becoming the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Women like Graham prove that no matter the reputation of the industry, it’s possible to thrive and achieve success. From being a staff writer to directing an entire publication, Graham is a journalistic icon and an inspiration for women in the field.

4. Whitney Wolfe Herd

Now, in 2021, women are becoming more empowered than ever. In February, Whitney Wolf Herd (founder of the dating app Bumble) took her company public. And at age 31, she is the youngest woman to do so.

Not only does this feat serve as inspiration for female entrepreneurs, but Heard’s mission is extremely empowering for women. With Bumble as a dating app that encourages women to “make the first move,” Heard hopes to inspire women to take control in more than just their dating life: in terms of friendship, life, and career as well.

Thanks to these women, female financial empowerment is thriving now more than ever. Just as these women paved the way for future generations, it’s time for you to get inspired and get empowered as a woman in business.

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