Abstract: Enterprising Women: Remaking Gendered Networks on Wall Street in a Global Economy

Melissa Fisher


This paper examines how Wall Street women remake gendered networks. Drawing on research in the Financial Women's Association (FWA) and 85 Broads—two groups of Wall Street women—I address transformations in women's organizational identity in the global economy. The FWA emerged during the Eisenhower Bull Market. FWA women viewed the network as an elite financially focused entity defined by entrepreneurial business principles, rather than a pro-feminist organization oriented toward fighting gendered discrimination in the workplace. But by the 1990s, the vision of a female network, void of a political agenda, became difficult to sustain. Simultaneously, as corporations became less secure institutions, the assumptions of successfully building a life-long career on Wall Street began to disappear. As a result, women's networks are dealing with new issues: calls for diversity in business, a loss of permanent work, and a search for the meaning of success in an increasingly post-corporate world. What is novel, in contemporary women's networks, is the lack of any clear hegemonic logic to their projects. Accordingly, the paper explores how a series of challenges—the feminist movement, the globalization of markets, and the sometimes disappearance of work—have destabilized the ordering principles of women's networks.