The icon deemed “Fearless Girl” was feted by influencers and opinion-makers on the left as “bold and brilliant,” the apex achievement of feminist political theater. It was said to be a transgression against male-dominated Wall Street Culture. “Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl,” New York City Bill de Blasio declared. You were hard-pressed to find a man who reacted negatively to this diminutive figurine, but men were supposed to dislike women invading their erstwhile spaces. So it was assumed they did.
This statue was commissioned by Boston-based State Street Global Advisors, an investment firm, which ostensibly placed the sculpture to draw attention to the lack of women in high-ranking positions at Fortune 500 firms. If anyone had been interested in scrutiny, they’d have found that State Street would have been near the top of the list of offenders. Ronald O’Hanley, State Street’s President and CEO, occupied a role that had never been shared by a woman. Women occupied only 17 percent of his firm’s leadership positions (five of 28 total).
State Street had even once distributed a strange pamphlet advising investors on how to talk to women. “Genetic factors like levels of testosterone and how the brain deals with stress can skew female investors into being more risk adverse (sic),” the pamphlet read. “Unlike their male counterparts women also have more vivid memories of negative experiences–the female brain is hardwired for less-selective memory, which can further deter risk-taking.”