Remember “Fearless Girl”? On February 28 of this year, the eve of International Women’s Day, a bronze statue of a defiant little girl suddenly appeared facing down the iconic Wall Street Bull.
She was commissioned by the firm, State Street Global Advisors in order, according the firm, to highlight the need to increase feminine representation on the boards of Wall Street firms.
Also, not incidentally, it was intended to celebrate State Street’s Global Advisors’ Gender Diversity Index SHE fund, meant to appeal to investors wanting to invest in politically correct corporations. A plaque at the girl’s feet said as much.
Many loved the statue, reacting to it as a feminist symbol of the power of women to face down male domination on Wall Street and men in general. She was an instant celebrity! Tourists flocked to see her. Women brought their little girls to be photograped with her.
However, there were those who were not happy, and controversy ensued. The sculptor of the bull, Arturo Di Modica, was incensed by the Fearless Girl. He had wanted the Bull to be viewed as a representation of “the strength and power of the American people,” not as an oppressor of women. And others, including me, pointed out that Fearless Girl was totally dependent on the bull for her message: an artistic encroachment that we deemed out of bounds.
Others objected to the fact that she was advertising a commercial product on city property and had no permit to be there. When this became more widely understood, the plaque heralding the SHE fund was removed.
Twenty-eight thousand people signed an online petition to keep her. Finally Mayor de Blasio decided that she could stay—until March 1, 2018,the anniversary of International Women’s Day, rolled around.
Representing a minority feminist view, Gina Bellafante, a columnist of the New York Times, had criticized the statue as a cynical PR ploy, an example of “corporate feminism.”
Turns out she was right! At the time Fearless Girl made her appearance, State Street was under investigation by the Department of Labor for unfair labor practices. And now State Street has settled a $5 million gender discriminiation lawsuit
According to the Boston Globe:
“In March, an office within the Department of Labor found that State Street had discriminated against women at the senior vice president, managing director, and vice president levels by paying them less than men in similar positions. The agency also claims the company paid black employees less than similarly positoned white employees.
The pay practices covered a two-year period and affected 305 female executives and 15 black vice presidents, the government said. They will receive a total of $4.5 million in back pay and nearly $508,000 in interest.”
So much for gender equity.
I hope that Fearless Girl’s lease will not be renewed when it expires in February.