According to the organization Women in Insurance & Financial Services (WIFS), "[t]he first recorded women's organization within the insurance industry was the Women Leaders Round Table, founded in 1936 with its membership based solely on production. It served as a recognition program, which met annually." That organization grew into MIFS and it is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The organization had the honor of ringing The Opening Bell on the New York Stock Exchange on December 27, 2011. The first women's financial organization to do so.
Women still face significant hurdles in the financial services and insurance. Studies show, on average, that women (in the U.S.) earn approximately $.80 for every dollar earned by men for similar work (this figure is somewhat anecdotal as the 2007 study used percentages). And while the opening bell being rung by a well-respected women's financial group is a milestone, the staff of Jersey Shore and the Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit Models got the honor before MIFS. In fact, the NYSE was not open to women as traders until 1943. It is a market-driven and male-dominated industry.
My two daughters will have significantly greater opportunities in their carreers because of the women who came before them as pioneers. So perhaps, rather than focus on all of the disparity today we can look to and honor those women. Happy International Women's Day!