When Norma Yaeger acquired her New York Stock Exchange license in 1962, she didn’t know of any other women in the industry. The Stock Exchange didn’t even allow women to step foot on its floor. But having just escaped poverty in NY’s Catskill Mountains, and determined to support her children, Norma wasn’t going to let the exclusionary traditions of the financial industry stop her from becoming a stockbroker.
During her long career she founded a mutual fund and two security brokerage firms that transacted millions of dollars of trades every day. She made fortunes and folded companies, all while raising five children. Persevering to achieve the work-home balance, Norma rose through the ranks of a male-dominated industry, opening the door for young women who would come up behind her. READ MORE
About Breaking Down The Walls
Young women in the 21st Century have choices. They can marry or not; the doors of educational institutions and industry are wide open to them. They can do and be whatever they choose. But to keep moving forward, it is important to understand from where we have come. And Norma Yaeger’s story helps put it in perspective.
Like most young women in the 1950’s, Norma Yaeger married young, had children, and depended on her husband to support their family. Unlike most women of the times, when things went awry and her husband failed to provide, Norma took it upon herself to make a better life for her and her kids.
The stock market enthralled her. Never mind that she knew of no other women in the industry. Norma set out to get her NY Stock Exchange license. When she acquired it in 1962, it was not to break a barrier; it was to support her family.
Norma had already conquered her deepest fears, broke and alone with three children in an isolated house in the Catskills. And she knew what thrilled her – staring at stock prices through the big windows of brokerages. So though she wasn’t raised for this career (Sephardic Jewish daughters from Brooklyn weren’t raised for careers), she was ready for it.
I sometimes wonder if today’s young women realize just how many opportunities they have – or if they realize that those same opportunities were not always open to women. Yes, by the time I came of age women certainly had the vote. But the social structures with which we dealt were as tight as the girdles we wore.
I was born Norma Naomi Hason in the middle of the first half of the 20th century, and I became of age at the middle of that century, at a time when women aspired to marry, raise children, and spoil their grandchildren. Born, raised, and educated in New York City including at the City College of New York’s Bernard Baruch’s College of Business and The New York Institute of Finance, I wanted more. But, like most women of my generation, I married, had children, and deferred to my husband – until I didn’t.
When it became clear to me, as I and my children went cold and hungry in a house in the Catskill Mountains of New York into which my husband had moved us, and that he would never really provide for us, I began to dream. And what I dreamt about was a life in which I could provide for my family; a life in which I could be financially independent of my spouse; of a job as a stockbroker.
Not one to be satisfied with dreams, in 1962 I became the first woman to be enrolled in the Hornblower & Weeks training program for Stockbrokers. As a trainee, I demanded and got equal pay for equal work as well as the right to join my male trainees on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange – a formerly unheard of perk for a woman. As a Registered Representative, I was employed by Hornblower & Weeks and was the only woman on their Management Advisory Board. Later, because of my success, I was also employed by Bear Stearns & Co., and Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc.
After a divorce and remarriage to Lawrence Yaeger, a General Surgeon, I moved to California and continued my employment with Drexel Burnham Lambert until I opened my own firm, Yaeger Securities. During that time, I registered a Mutual Fund and started a Second Brokerage Firm, Yaeger Capital Markets. My numerous licenses include the New York Stock Exchange, National Association of Security Dealers, Chicago Board of Options, and the Commodity Exchange. I lectured throughout the United States to give advice to women starting on careers and investing. And I did all of this while raising five children, three of my own and two of my husband’s.
With the sale of my brokerage firm in 1998, I retired and pursued yet another dream, traveling the world with my husband, Larry. I now live with Larry in California emailing and visiting often with my children and grandchildren, following the stock market with as much interest as ever, and encouraging women to break down the walls wherever they still exist. Breaking Down The Walls is my first book.
This is a great book for women of all ages. The author did a great job discussing the past, and I learned a lot about the stock exchange. Norma is such a strong woman and I can not believe how different the world was in the 60's. Norma did what she had to do to support her family and even though she was put down by co-workers she never gave up. She also became a huge icon in the business and so many people looked up to her. She was also admired by the people that started to work with and for her. This is definitely a great book that every woman should read and send to the people that say "you can't".
I am giving this book a 5/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own