[5/4/15] The Women Sheriffs of Wall Street: Elizabeth Warren, Sheila Bair, Mary Schapiro

Watch the event!

On May 4th, 2015 the Project on Public Narrative hosted an historic event at Harvard featuring a discussion with Senator Elizabeth Warren, former SEC chairperson Mary Schapiro and former FDIC chairperson Sheila Bair. With PPN Director Ron Suskind moderating, these three "Women Sheriffs of Wall Street" reflected on the multidimensional issue of gender in corporate and political leadership across the nation, delving into the central role it played - and continues to play - in the battle with Wall Street for financial regulation and reform.
What kind of effects - both explicit and implicit - does gender have on systemic risk, accountability and performance? What are some of the challenges that women leaders commonly face - in the Board Room and in public service? How can we shape the public dialogue in a way that leads to real, structural change within the hyper-masculine realm of financial services? And what kind of "sheriff of Wall Street" will Hilary Clinton make if she becomes our first female president? Find out by watching this momentous discussion on YouTube, available here tomorrow morning.
Here are links to some recommended reading as well as materials that were cited throughout the discussion:
1. Mary Schapiro, who grew up playing lacrosse and field hockey competitively, spoke about the beneficial effects of playing sports for professional women. Researcher Susan Madsen, Director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project, has studied the many benefits of growing up with sports on women in the workplace, including increased confidence, teamwork skills, and deciciveness:
In Madsen's book On Becoming a Woman Leader, she summarizes her extensive findings from her research into female university presidents - including how a significant majority of them had a competitive background growing up: they played sports (like Ms Schapiro), were in debate societies (like Senator Warren), performed music and theater at a high level, and so on. Check out her book on Amazon.
2. Statistics on women in leadership positions in America: The Women’s Leadership Fact Sheet from the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, shows that in the overall US economy, women are only 14.6 percent of executive officers and only 8.1 percent of top earners. The percentage of women on all U.S. corporate boards has been stuck in the 12.1 percent to 12.3 percent range over the past decade. Their presence in top management positions today remains below 9 percent. For these and more statistics on women in leadership positions across different sectors, read the Fact Sheet here:
3. There have been multiple studies and simulations, conducted by a wide variety of institutions, unearthing evidence that women financially outperform men by a significant margin. 
Female junior traders outperform - and break less rules - than their male counterparts:

Credit Suisse, using their Credit Suisse Gender 3000 index, calculated that the return on equity for companies with women in more than 10% of key positions was 27% better than for those with less than 5 percent and the dividend payouts had a 42% higher ratio:

Quantopian, a Boston-based trading platform, did a study on how well women-led companies in the Fortune 1000 performed over a 12-year period (2002-2014), compared to the entire S&P 500 over the same time. The comparison showed that the 80 women CEOs during those 12 years produced equity returns 226% better than the S&P 500 as whole:

4. According to a brand new study out of Wake Forest University, having more women in key management positions and on the board also leads to a lower chance of committing corporate fraud or tax evasion - though there has to be a "critical mass" of women in these leadership roles for a company to reap these benefits:

5. Dr. Robin Ely, a professor at Harvard Business School, has extensively studied the role of gender in organizational structure. She uses the example of an offshore oil rig in which the owner, eager to reduce on-the-job accidents, effectively changed the 'macho' culture therein by promoting accountability, knowing one's limits and team values; leading to a kind of "undoing" of gender that could be applied as well to Wall Street:

6. Dr. John Coates, a Cambridge University neuroscientist and former Wall Street trader himself, conducted extensive research into the hormonal changes that flood the systems of male traders during high-risk, high-reward trading scenarios. He comes to striking, biology-based conclusions about the root causes of the Global Financial Crisis in his book, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, available on Amazon

7. Fore more, read Meredith Jones' recently released book Women of the Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (and How You Can Too), available on Amazon and in bookstores around the country.

Speaker Books

1. Ron Suskind's NY Times bestseller Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President was one of the earliest recountings of the unique phenomenon explored in this event: how so many advocates for financial reform were women, who found themselves pitted against the predominantly male leaders of Wall Street in the key moments before, during and after the Crisis. (Available on Amazon and at your local bookseller.)   

2. Sheila Bair's book Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself was a NY Times bestseller as well, and an incisive, informative rendering of the key issues and actors during her time at the helm of the FDIC. (Available on Amazon and in bookstores.)

3. Senator Warren's most recent book, A Fighting Chance, was recently re-released with a new afterword for 2015. It is available on Amazon and in bookstores. Her other books, including The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke and All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan (both co-written with her daughter, Amelia Warren-Tyagi) are also widely available online and in stores.