It’s not been that long ago that most believed women had no place in the American workforce. In fact, in 1936, a full 80 percent of Americans strongly objected to women working outside the home. That, of course, was prior to World War II, when those objections were put to the test. By 1942, that number was cut in half. The number of women working outside the home rose from 11 million in late 1939 to close to 19 million just five years later. By the end of the war one in every four wives was employed.
The labor shortage became a challenge for every proud American woman to meet the demands that are a part of war.
Another interesting facet indicative of the day was the drop in the number of women employed as domestic help – babysitters, housekeepers, etc. It’s interesting since it’s not likely many women of the day ever dreamed those who followed would not only break out of the stereotypical trends, but would soar in unexpected ways. From the All American Girls Baseball League that thrived between 1943 and 1954 to the famous Rosie Riveter, in all of her assertive glory, women commanded their place in the business landscape.
The Contemporary Woman
Fast forward to current day. Every year, American Banker Magazine names the women who are shaking things up and making a difference. Those names become part of Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance series.
The numbers were arrived at by taking into consideration a number of factors:
- The 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking, recognizing the most influential female leaders in the banking industry
- The 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance, recognizing women in the non-bank finance sector including capital markets, asset management, investment banking and card networks
- The 25 Women to Watch, which spotlights up-and-comers along with more seasoned executives who have moved into new roles within the past year.
Most Powerful Women in Banking & Finance
Topping the list as the most powerful woman in the financial sector is Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO, JPMorgan Asset Management. It can’t be easy for her to work with one of the most controversial banks in the world. Countless lawsuits and orders to appear before Congress to answer to unethical and possibly illegal goings on are just a few of the poisonous realities for JP Morgan. For the past four years, Erdoes has led the bank’s asset management division. She manages more than $2 trillion in assets and is considered a powerful asset for the bank.
Our asset management business delivers consistently strong results, and Mary’s leadership is the driving force behind that performance,
says Jamie Dimon the bank’s CEO.
Coming in second is Abigail Johnson, President of Fidelity Financial Services. She’s both poignant and insightful. Her ability to gauge the financial sector is more than impressive and her confidence is contagious.
Number three on the list is filled by Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat. She’s influential, authoritative and can make things happen when others can’t. By 2015, it’s believed Fidelity will grow its assets by an additional $57 billion and Porat is leading the charge. Not only that, but soon, she’ll be the primary decision maker for one of the 10 biggest American based depository institutions.
Porat is fiercely determined to continue building on her presence in the sector as she works tirelessly to improve relations between American consumers and the banking industry as a whole. She supports bank stress-testing and believes additional transparency is a good place to start.
Number four is filled by Lisa Carnoy, Head of Global Capital Markets, Bank of America. This was a challenge for Carnoy who knew going into the merger with Bank of America its ongoing legal problems. She was preparing to give birth to her twins and yet somehow managed to keep her team motivated throughout the process. Those who work for her say she’s never sugar coated the truth and said all along she was unsure she’d be able to save anyone’s jobs.
Rounding out the top five is Barbara Byrne. She almost left the workforce at one point after having spent three decades in investment banking with many high-profile deals being made.
Currently, she’s the vice chairman in investment banking at Barclays. Last year, she ranked number six; this year, she’s in the top five. Her powerful convictions played a role in several deals: Altria and its $62 billion spin-off of Kraft in 2007, followed by another spill off, this time totaling $113 billion and involving Phillip Morris International.
Byrne remains the first and only woman named as vice chairman of investment banking at Lehman Brothers. She remained with the troubled investment bank until its merge with Barclays in 2008.
At the time, I did not want to do that,
It was going to require an immense investment to cover a new area and let go of the security of the accounts I had developed.
But there was another reason, and certainly a more important one for weighing her career options: she had four children at home then, ranging in age from 4 to 11.
Beyond the Top 5
The list, including bios on all of the women named, can be found at the American Banker website. Starting with number 6, here’s how the rest of the compilation, and their banks, fell into place:
- Cecelia (Cece) Stewart, Citigroup
- Mary Navarro, Huntington Bank
- Barbara Yastine, Ally Bank
- Sandie O’Connor, JPMorgan Chase
- Diane Reyes, HSBC
- Anne Finucane, Bank of America
- Patricia Callahan, Wells Fargo
- Dorothy Savarese, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank
- Janice Fukakusa, RBC
- Leslie Godridge, U.S. Bank
- Deborah McWhinney, Citigroup
- Maria Coyne, KeyCorp
- LeeAnne Linderman, Zions First National Bank
- Alberta Cefis, Scotiabank
- Melanie Dressel, Columbia Bank
- Michelle Van Dyke, Fifth Third Bank
- Rilla Delorier, SunTrust Banks
- Maura Markus, Bank of the West
- Caryl Athanasiu, Wells Fargo
Meanwhile, the top 10 Women to Watch, according to American Banker includes:
- Karen Peetz, BNY Mellon
- Jane Fraser, Citigroup
- Marianne Lake, JPMorgan Chase
- Mary Tuuk, Fifth Third Bancorp
- Heather Cox, Capital One
- Eileen Serra, JPMorgan Chase
- Laura Schulte, Wells Fargo
- Karen Parkhill, Comerica
- Andrea Smith, Bank of America
- Peyton Patterson, BNC Financial Group