Muriel Siebert, a longtime resident of East Hampton and Southampton, died last week in Manhattan at the age of 84. Ms. Siebert was a small, imaginative and financially savvy woman who through sheer grit came to be the first woman to ever get a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. This was in 1967. She immediately found there was no ladies’ room. They made her one. After she got her seat, she founded her own firm. It would be 10 years before another woman would be accepted for a seat on the Stock Exchange.
Mickie—everyone who knew her called her that—was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Almost by accident, in college, she discovered she had a way with numbers. “They told me stories,” she told me in an interview I had with her in 1992. She was attending the women’s campus of Western Reserve University. There were no courses in finance on the women’s campus, so she commuted to the men’s campus to take them.
Before graduation, her father became ill and she had to come home to nurse him. She never did finish college. But upon arriving in New York City and finding that, without a college degree, no Wall Street firm would hire her, she neglected to tell that bit of information to prospective employers. Soon, she had become a sensation at Bache & Company. Her research revealed things that others did not see, and in spite of the Old Boy Network, she rose through the ranks. When the time came to fill out the application for a seat on the Stock Exchange however, she had to tell the truth about her lack of college degree. “If I didn’t tell the truth, I would not be approved,” she told me. They gave her the seat in spite of this little lie.
Soon she founded her own firm, Muriel Siebert & Company. When she learned that Wall Street traders’ commissions would soon be deregulated, she prepared in advance and announced her firm as a discount brokerage on the day the new law passed.
She was a great force for women in finance, and she had the wisdom and tenacity to get things done. When she encountered an obstacle, she once said, “I just put my head down and charge.”
Her obituary took up a page in The New York Times on Monday. Her photo was on the front page.
Here in the Hamptons, she was a good friend of mine. She came out here in the early 1950s, “when a room at Ma Jones’ boarding house was four dollars a night—for two.” When they built Dune Alpin in the 1970s, she bought a condominium. In the late 1980s, she bought a unit at Whitefields on Hill Street in Southampton and moved there. She lived here, and in New York City, until her death.