Glass ceilings in Washington DC, and Wall St.


Kiroko Masuike/WpN for The Wall Street Journal
Erin Callan, 42, is known for being frank, fashionable.



CEO, CFO women are the Wall Street ritual lambs: Zoe last November, now Erin. But theory tells: beware! The blood of your victims will fall upon you, in the next bank run (from René Girard anthropological model of the lamb).


Washington. Ms Clinton has used the imaginative metaphor of  BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING. As the excellent Guglielmo Zucconi (La Repubblica correspondent, June 8th) has explained:

“la barriera trasparente eppure infrangibile che impedisce alle donne di volare” 

“the transparent though unbreakable barrier, not allowing women to fly”.

A nice interpretation is that Barack, by being no macho in his family gyneceum, is dealing at the same time with gender and race, trying hard to  break 2 ceilings at the same time (Susan Faludi, NYT op-ed).

The metaphor has already entered our language. Here is an example.

Wall St. is again under the pressure of a subcrime impact on finance, that – without an emergency State aid – would have already degenerated in a systemic meltdown 3 months ago. When the game is tough, women are kicked off from CEO and CFO roles. Actually not just them: in a Sunday meeting, insurance giant under subcrime fever AIG, replaced its CEO, a Martin J. Sullivan – a half an hour ago breaking news. But they are so few, that after Zoe and Erin, we are close to 0%.

From the FT’s chief business commentator blog:

June 12, 2008

The lowering of Wall Street’s glass ceiling

The abrupt removal of Erin Callan as Lehman’s CFO yesterday (along with Joe Gregory as Lehman’s chief administrative officer) is first and foremost a sign of Lehman’s fight to regain credibility among investors. But it also means that Ms Callan, who was dubbed “Wall Street’s most powerful woman” in the April issue of Portfolio magazine is powerful no more. She is being unceremoniously bumped down to “a senior position” in the investment banking division. Ms Callan’s move follows the firing of Zoe Cruz, the previous holder of the “most powerful woman on Wall Street” title. She was dismissed as president of Morgan Stanley last November by John Mack, its chairman and chief executive., April 27       photo: ben baker
One morning last November, Zoe Cruz walked the length of hallway from her executive suite at Morgan Stanley to the office of her boss, chairman and CEO John Mack, who’d called her in for an impromptu meeting. The distance, roughly 50 feet, represented the final leg of her journey to the highest echelons of Wall Street: Three weeks earlier, the 63-year-old Mack had signaled that Cruz was his first choice to replace him as the head of Morgan Stanley when he retired., March 17 – April issue
The most promising female candidate, Morgan Stanley co-president Zoe Cruz, was pushed out last fall after the firm posted a $3.7 billion loss from mortgage-related securities. Merrill LynchBear Stearns, and Citigroup underwent C.E.O. searches in recent months, and no women appeared on any of their short lists. (Read more about the workplace battle of the sexes.

A handful of women have achieved C.F.O. status at major Wall Street firms. The select group includes Sallie Krawcheck (briefly) and Heidi Miller before her at Citigroup, as well as Dina Dublon at J.P. Morgan Chase and Barbara Yastine at Credit Suisse First Boston. None of them have moved to the top job at their firm or even to an obvious precursor position.