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Constructing Corporate AmericaHistory, Politics, Culture$
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Kenneth Lipartito and David B. Sicilia

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251902

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199251902.001.0001

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Wall Street Women's Herstories

Wall Street Women's Herstories

(p.294) CHAPTER 10 Wall Street Women's Herstories
Constructing Corporate America

Melissa Fisher

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the initial entry of professional women on Wall Street. It locates women's accounts of corporate life in relation to historical factors, including and encompassing the context over women's legitimate place on Wall Street and the transformation of gendered relations amid the upheaval in institutional structures produced by global capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s. Drawing on life-history interviews, the chapter analyses the ways in which the first cohort of women in research drew on natural attributes of American femininity, such as conservative risk-averse behaviour, to legitimize their relationships with clients. It also examines the ways women pioneers in investment banking drew on supposedly masculine characteristics of calculated rationality and risk-taking to construct themselves as authoritative financial subjects. The chapter argues for historians to analyse the discourse of executives, including their talk about corporate culture, as a window onto the gendered construction of business on Wall Street.

Keywords:   gender, global capitalism, deregulation, risk-taking, corporate motherhood, neo-liberalism

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