Wall Street's Fearless Girl statue gets new place of honor
The Fearless Girl is making her stand outside the very temple of American capitalism.
The hands-on-her-hips statue that spent most of the past two years staring down Wall Street's Charging Bull sculpture, becoming a spunky symbol of feminine empowerment, was unveiled Monday at her new permanent home, in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
"We're honored to welcome Fearless Girl to the very spot that has captured the minds of business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs," Betty Liu, executive vice chairman of the stock exchange, said at a ceremony to reintroduce the 4-foot (130-centimeter) statue. "You're among friends here at the New York Stock Exchange."
The statue was commissioned by Boston-based investment fund State Street Global Advisors as a way to push for more women on corporate boards. It was originally positioned across from the Charging Bull, on a traffic island near the tip of Manhattan, but was removed last month, in part because the admiring crowds around the two sculptures were creating a hazard.
The bull will eventually rejoin Fearless Girl near the stock exchange, but no date for the move has been given.
State Street CEO Cyrus Taraporevala said companies with female directors on their boards "tend to be better managed."
"So for us, advocating for gender diversity is not some part of a political agenda. It's about our long-term performance agenda. This is about value, not values," he said.
Taraporevala said 301 companies that State Street identified as having no women on their boards have added at least one since Fearless Girl made her debut in March 2017. State Street's own 11-member board has three women, according to its website.
The statue was originally intended as a temporary display but quickly gained a fan base among tourists and locals who lined up to pose for photos with her.
"She really captivated all New Yorkers," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Manhattan Democrat. "New Yorkers really did not want to see her go."
Now, Maloney said, "instead of staring down the bull, she's going to be staring down all of business right here in the center and capital of business for America here in New York City."
Visitors to the stock exchange area said they were glad to see Fearless Girl there.
"She's out for battle," said New Yorker Theresa Smith, 45. "She's going out for the big stuff. When you think of the stock exchange, we are talking money, we are talking New York City, we are talking capital, and she's headed to the top and she's on her way."
The reinstallation of Fearless Girl comes as New York, like other U.S. cities, is grappling with questions of whether its monuments are truly representative.
There are only five statues of real historical women in public places in the city; officials announced last month that a monument to pioneering congresswoman Shirley Chisholm will be the sixth.
"Having a young girl in a place of great male dominance and power is appealing because right now it seems to me that women still are invisible," said Setha Low, a professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.