24 Landmark Facts about Women and Money

March 13, 2019

In honor of Women’s History Month—and the countless female financial trailblazers whose work laid the foundation for many of the financial freedoms women have today—we’ve rounded up a list of monumental events and fascinating figures that have shaped the story of women and money.

For centuries, women in the U.S. have fought for pay equality, lobbied for financial autonomy, and more than earned their places of leadership in the economy. Their legacy has impacted today’s world and economy in countless ways—here are a few notable milestones from 2000 to the present.

Earning Power

  • 1 in 3 married women earn more money each year than their husbands do.1
  • As of 2017, more than half a million women earned $100k or more in annual income.2
  • 45% of all U.S. millionaires are women.2

Financial Power and Independence

  • 31% of women keep their finances completely separate from their partners.3
  • 93% of women have significant influence in choosing their family’s financial services.4
  • 2 in 3 women handle the majority of money management in their households.5

Saving & Investing

  • Women save 9.0% of their take-home pay, while men save just 8.6% of theirs.4
  • Women’s investment portfolios receive a 0.4% higher annual return than men’s. Assuming equal pay, equal investment contributions, and a 30-year time horizon, that translates to nearly $300,000 more for your retirement.4

Spending Power

  • Women purchase 65% of new cars.6
  • Women purchase 85% of all branded products.6
  • Worldwide, women control more than $20 trillion of spending money.4
  • By 2028, 75% of global discretionary spending will be controlled by women.7

Women in Fintech—LendingClub’s Leaders

  • Chief Capital Officer Valerie Kay heads the entire investment division of LendingClub, leading all investor funding and scalable investment product innovation.
  • SVP of Risk Run Yi leads the credit strategy decisions, underwriting pricing, loss forecasting and new product development that bring borrowers to LendingClub.
  • Chief Compliance Officer Sylvie Brillaud leads the team of professionals who ensure fair lending standards and regulatory compliance across the entire company.
  • LendingClub values its diverse mix of talent, selected for a Bloomberg feature on gender diversity.
  • LendingClub’s Women’s Network hosts co-ed personal finance events, resulting in employees taking action to better their financial situations, like increasing their 401(k) allocations and moving emergency savings into high-yield accounts.

It’s undeniable that women have played a vital role in molding and driving the modern U.S. economy, in the fintech space, and at home. Check out the below for some of the monumental women and money moments that got us to where we are now.

A Timeline of U.S. Women’s History in Finance


Early 1700s: Pennsylvanian women are granted the right to own and manage property, but only if their husbands are physically or mentally unable to fulfill these duties.

1825: Rebecca Lukens becomes the first woman to head a U.S. industrial company after inheriting Brandywine Iron. The business eventually grew to be a Fortune 500 company.

1844: Maine becomes the first state to guarantee women the right to “separate economy.”

1848: New York passes the Married Woman’s Property Act, which gives a married woman the same financial rights as an unmarried woman and excuses her from liability for her husband’s personal debts.

1865: Pocahontas is the first woman to appear on American currency, depicted in the center of a crowd of men on a $20 bill.

1866: Emancipated black women working as laundresses in Mississippi unionize and organize a strike to demand better pay.

1869: Lydia Moss Bradley becomes what is most likely the first American woman to enter into a prenuptial agreement in order to protect her sizable assets.

1870: Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin open the first women-owned Wall Street brokerage house. It targets women investors as its primary customers.

1886: Martha Washington is the first woman to appear solo on U.S. currency when she becomes the face of the $1 silver certificate.

1903: Maggie Lena Walker opens Richmond-based St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, the first bank chartered by a woman in the United States.

1919: Sarah Breedlove becomes the country’s first self-made woman millionaire. She was born to freed slaves, orphaned, and later invented and sold homemade hair-care products to black women through the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.

1933: Frances Perkins is appointed by FDR as the first female cabinet member. As the Secretary of Labor, she plays a major role in the creation of Social Security.

1938: The U.S. passes the Fair Labor Standards Act and institutes the federal minimum wage, eliminating many cases of gender wage disparity for hourly workers.

1960s: The U.S. grants women the right to have their own personal bank accounts.

1967: Muriel Siebert becomes the first woman seated on the New York Stock Exchange, joining 1,365 men.

1968: The Fair Housing Act, part of the Civil Rights Act, forbids discrimination in home lending on the basis of gender, race, and more.

1971: The Supreme Court unanimously strikes down an Idaho law that allows only men to administer estates in probate court. The legal brief that won the case was authored by future Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

1972: Katharine Graham becomes the first woman CEO of an established Fortune 500 company.

1974: Congress passes the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which includes a ban on the banking requirement that women have a male co-signer on applications for credit and loans.

2003: The State Quarter series features its first woman, Helen Keller, on the Alabama quarter.

2007: Ruth Bader Ginsberg famously dissents in the case of Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire Company, where Lily Ledbetter sued the company, her employer, for gender discrimination after discovering she was paid less than male counterparts. While the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of Goodyear, RBG pressed for Congress to amend the associated Title IV clause—and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill President Obama signed when he took office in 2009.

2011: The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is formed to oversee the fair lending practices of financial institutions and protect consumers from discriminatory business practices.

2014: Janet Yellen begins her four-year term as the first female Chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

2019: A record-breaking 102 women are sworn in to U.S. Congress, setting the stage for the next wave of change, from finance to equality and all areas in between.

During Women’s History Month—and every other day of the year—our hats are off to the financially savvy women who’ve brought us so far, and the extraordinarily powerful combination of women and money.

Through fair lending and transparency, LendingClub is doing its part to support equal access to financial products, providing a level playing field for women, and all of our customers, to take charge of their financial well-being.

  1. The Boston Consulting Group’s study.
  2. Wealth statistics, Shurwest.
  3. Study on joint partner accounts, Finder.
  4. 2017 study by Fidelity.
  5. “Women & Affluence” report, Citigroup.
  6. “Marketing to Women” report, Sheconomy®.
  7. “Growing Beyond: High Achievers” report, Ernst & Young.
  8. Women’s rights and their money: a timeline from Cleopatra to Lilly Ledbetter.
  9. Women, Money, and Power: An Historical Timeline.
  10. A History of Women on American Money.
  11. The History of Women in the Labor Movement.
  12. CFPB Launches Consumer Complaint Database.
  13. History of Fair Housing.
  14. Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped shape the modern era of women’s rights—before she joined the Supreme Court.
  15. U.S. enters new phase as women change the face of Congress.
  16. A Timeline Of Women And Wealth: The First Female Millionaires, Billionaires & CEOs And The Policies That Paved The Way For Them, Forbes.

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