Feminist research in urban studies and planning

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Women, Finance, and Space on Wall Street

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Georgetown Anthropologist Melissa Suzanne Fischer has a new manuscript in this volume of City and Society:

FISHER, MELISSA SUZANNE. 2010. Wall street women: Engendering global finance in the manhattan landscape. City & Society 22 (2): 262-285.

From the abstract:

The first generation of women on Wall Street has negotiated shifting gender roles from the fifties to the present, a period of transformation in global financial markets and business as well. Over much of this period, these women increasingly used city places—federal buildings, the stock exchange—to promote women’s upward mobility on Wall Street. In this article, I focus on how two women’s networks—The Financial Women’s Association and the Women’s Campaign Fund (now Forum)—deployed many tactics of visibility, including organizing events celebrating women’s accomplishments in male dominated industries, using the press, and more recently incorporating feminist performance artist’s autobiographical storytelling. The article traces the ways the women’s networks shifted the sites of their spatial tactics in the eighties, from downtown financial spaces to more “democratic” professional-managerial spaces throughout Manhattan. It also illuminates the ways the networks have increasingly incorporated tenets of liberal feminism into their events.

The real questions for me reading this manuscript concerned how the author framed particular spaces as either exclusionary (financial)  or more democratic (the professional-managerial) spaces.  It’s never been clear to me that changing the formal structure of hierarchy opens up either dialogues or spaces more for people on the margin. Moving to less formal structure can reinforce the power of informal network hierarchies, which may be no more inclusive than another. For example, Robert’s Rules of Order require action once a motion has been made and seconded; in an informally run meeting, unpopular or marginalized voices can be easily talked over.

Take a look at the manuscript and see what you think.


Written by Lisa Schweitzer

December 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Posted in spatial aspects

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