By Claire Zillman
March 9, 2017

There was plenty of symbolism to mark International Women’s Day yesterday. Women wore red, skipped work, and refused to shop. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives staged a walkout. A bookstore in Cleveland, Ohio turned around male-authored books so only the spines of female-authored books showed. Female writers at Jezebel joined the general women’s strike so the female-focused news site only featured men’s bylines. Vice’s Broadly vertical posted a video of a dumpster fire as an “extremely subtle visual metaphor.”

But one of the most moving acts of defiance appeared at the center of the American financial industry, notorious for its macho culture and dearth of women. Between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Tuesday, State Street Global Advisors installed a 50-inch bronze statue of a defiant little girl a few paces from Wall Street’s famous charging bull. The girl stands tall, fists on hips, staring down the beast.

The monument “represents the future,” State Street says. And it’s the visual component of the firm’s new effort to pressure 3,500 companies to aim for gender parity on their boards. So far, the statue is a sensation, generating headlines the world over and attracting onlookers to the small brick-laid patch at the foot of Broadway.

The statue is scheduled to remain on the bull’s corner for one week, but State Street has already asked New York City to extend its permit for a month. VP of PR Anne McNally says the firm is “absolutely supportive of it being permanent as a work of art and a broader statement about gender diversity.” Whether that happens is up to the city’s Parks Department, she says. The Parks Department did not immediately return my request for comment on the statue’s fate.

I, for one, hope the statue secures an indelible spot in the city, blocks from the pumping heart of capitalism. “I see it as a piece that every woman can and should relate to,” sculptor Kristen Visbal said of her creation. “The bull is symbolic of every issue coming down the pike, that [women] can stand firm and hold their ground and deal with it.”

@clairezillman

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