A Wall Street company installed a bronze statuette of a primary-school aged girl defiantly facing New York City’s financial district’s famous bull monument.
State Street Global Advisors put the statue on the eve of International Women’s Day to highlight Wall Street companies’ lack of gender diversity and to draw attention to the pay gap facing women working in financial services.
“What we know is that women are roughly half of the population, they make a large proportion of the economic decisions and yet in corporate America, they’re not very well represented at senior leader levels so whether that’s CEOs or board members or other senior executives,” said Lori Heinel, State Street Global Advisors’ deputy global chief investment officer to Reuters. “We think that we’re really missing an opportunity that by empowering women to aspire to all that they can contribute, that we can actually create better economic progress around the globe.”
State Street said a quarter of companies on the Russell 3000 Index, which measures the performance of the 3,000 largest publically traded companies in the United States, does not have a woman on its board.
State Street said they discussed their plan to install the statue with New York City officials. The company said it expects the statuette will remain in front of the bull for at least a month, but could remain permanently depending on the public’s reception.
The bull monument, which was installed as “guerrilla art”, was put in lower Manhattan’s Bowling Green Park following the 1987 stock market crash. Since 1989 it has long been an attraction for passers-by and some tourists and businessmen have over the years developed superstitious rituals for good fortune.
The little bronze girl statue was designed by Kristen Visbal.
Those visiting the bull on Tuesday warmly received the statuette.
“This is my first time to the bull,” said Michelle Tavares to Reuters. “I’ve been here for a while but I wondered if that was news and when we saw it we were very struck, almost emotional. You know, the bull is kind of a symbol almost of male power in a way and this little girl is just standing there triumphant. I think it’s gorgeous. I love it.”
The installation comes as women across the United States are expected to stay away from work and demonstrate against US President Donald Trump in what has been called “A Day Without a Woman”.
The movement seeks to build upon momentum generated by a similar walkout of immigrants last month and the march of tens of thousands of women nation-wide following Trump’s inauguration in January.
“For years and years, March 8 has been International Women’s Day, and it has been a happy, happy day, which is fine,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women to Reuters. “But the political climate that we find ourselves in right now requires us to have political power.”
Rallies are planned in cities including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington DC the nation’s capital.
Organisers of the protest action encourage women who cannot afford to stay away from work to wear red and shop at women-only businesses.