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Breaking Glass

Muriel Siebert: “Not intimidated by the big dogs”

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Muriel Siebert, the first women to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, eventually became the founder, chairwoman and CEO of Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc. She passed away on Aug. 24, 2013, at the age of 84.
Muriel Siebert, the first women to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, eventually became the founder, chairwoman and CEO of Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc. She passed away on Aug. 24, 2013, at the age of 84. - (Facebook)

Muriel Siebert was the first woman ever to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. She also served as New York state's superintendent of banking, directed New York City's Job Development Authority and was the first woman to head one of the exchange's member firms. Talk about breaking glass.

Siebert, who was known as Mickie, died this past weekend at the age of 84. "The New York Times" ran a lengthy obituary about the life of the self-styled "Wall Street maverick," and it's well worth a read, especially if you're in the mood for a little female empowerment.

She purchased her seat on the exchange in 1967, and for the next 10 years, she remained the only woman among 1,365 men. That's just one bullet point in what amounts to an insanely impressive resume, even by today's standards. But to me, it's her smaller battles that really show her tenacity and fearlessness.

For instance, anyone who has used the ladies' room on the seventh floor of the exchange can say a silent 'thank you' to Siebert, who in 1987 threatened to have a portable toilet delivered if a women's restroom was not installed, according to the "Times." It was a small victory, sparing women the trouble of traipsing down a flight of stairs every time nature called, but an important one in its message about equality.

Siebert also testified before government groups about the discrimination she had experienced at Manhattan's social clubs in the early 1970s—slights such as being forced to use the back stairs rather than riding the elevator with the rest of the men.

"I put my head down and charge," Siebert once said of how she tackles obstacles.

Perhaps my favorite part of the Siebert's life detailed in the obit comes right at the end, when it talks about the similarities she saw between herself and her long-haired Chihuahua named Monster Girl.

Siebert always said she and her four-legged companion were "not intimated by the big dogs."

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