Lower Manhattan’s bronze charging bull has long been a symbol of male dominance on Wall Street, but on International Women’s Day it was joined by a similarly defiant figure.
For now, standing in its path is the statue of a little girl, her hands on her hips and her head held high, as if fearlessly staring the animal down. Before her stands a plaque which urges: “Know the power of women in leadership.”
The statue was placed there by State Street Global Advisors, the world’s third largest asset manager, as a means of calling attention to the lack of gender diversity on corporate boards and the pay gap of women working in financial services.
“A lot of people talk about gender diversity, but we really felt we had to take it to a broader level,” said Anne McNally, whose firm is an investment management subsidiary of State Street Corp.
Although women have made some headway against the glass ceiling, State Street said one out of four of the companies that make up the Russell 3000 Index still have no female representation on their boards.
“Today, we are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards, and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action,” State Street Global Advisors CEO Ron O’Hanley said in a statement.
Much the same as the charging bull, the little bronze girl by artist Kristen Visbal was put up in the early hours of the morning as “guerilla art,” McNally said. But, unlike the bull, the firm discussed it with the city beforehand so that it could remain for at least a week.
“We’re actively pursuing that it stays for a month,” she said. “If the city decides that it should stay in perpetuity, we’re absolutely on board with that.”
The bull, sculpted by Italian-born artist Arturo Di Modica, was initially taken down after he quietly placed it in front of the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989. But it was later given a permanent home, about a five-minute walk away on Broadway, in response to public support.