Photo: Ashley Siebels
If you walk by the iconic statue of the charging bull in New York City’s Wall Street on International Women’s Day, you’ll see that the bull now has an small, fierce opponent.
It comes courtesy of State Street Global Advisors, a $2.5 trillion asset manager. As part of a campaign to push financial companies to increase gender diversity, State Street commissioned a 50-inch bronze statue of a young girl with her hands on her hips as she defiantly stands up to the bull in front of her.
Usually the bull is a popular tourist landmark, but today, throngs of media, curious tourists and New Yorkers on their lunch break were leaving it alone to get a look at the statue of the girl in its path.
Reviews for the new statue are positive
Marie, a woman who asked to remain anonymous, said she didn’t tell her boss she was using her lunch break to go out and see the bull.
“Women, particularly with this administration, are feeling really marginalized, so I think it’s making quite a statement,” she said. Lindsay Childress said she brought her young daughter to see the bronze statue because it’s “empowering” and she wanted her daughter to experience it for when she was older.
Writer Andrew Lloyd-Jones’ only complaint was the “slight shame” of the crowds being too big to get a shot the bull and the girl in one photo.
Emily Fisher, a local real estate broker, thought the addition was a welcome change.
“There’s a lot of emphasis in our society in the United States on constant progress and movement, and not so much sustainability. When I look at the bull, it makes me think about that,” she said, noting that the tradition of rubbing the bull’s testicles for luck was “gross.”
She was more inspired by the bronze statue of the girl.
“I thought the statue was nice…a brave defiant smart girl. Maybe she’ll figure out how to make money on Wall Street or maybe she’s facing down the bull.”
That’s the kind of reaction the sculptor of the piece, Kristen Visbal, was hoping for. Visbal told The Wall Street Journal she wanted to create art that every woman could relate to: “The bull is symbolic of every issue coming down the pike, that they can stand firm and hold their ground and deal with it.”
Why the Wall Street Bull needs someone to stand up to it
Around 25% of the companies in the Russell 3000 Index, which is an index of the nation’s largest companies, have no women on their boards, according to State Street.
Physical art is not the only creative tool artists and thinkers have been using to send a message about gender parity in the workforce. 100percentmen is a Tumblr that curates screenshots of corporate boards, bios and panels to visually indict all organizations that only include men.
“A key contributor to effective independent board leadership is diversity of thought, which requires directors with different skills, backgrounds and expertise,” State Street president Ron O’Hanley said in a statement on the campaign to raise awareness of why female leadership is so important.
How long will the statue stay up?
A city permit will let the statue stay up for at least a week as State Street negotiates for it to stay longer. And there’s precedent for that happening: The Wall Street bull itself was a 1989 guerilla stunt by Arturo Di Modica that was removed and later reinstalled after public support.
But for now, the statue of the bold young girl is making a statement.
“Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference,” the plaque under the young girl’s feet reads.