London Stock Exchange “trailblazer” female traders receive City of London Freedom
Some of the first female City traders to work on the trading floor of the London Stock Exchange have today received the Freedom of the City of London, in recognition of their ground-breaking achievements in the capital’s financial services sector.
The eight women, who traded between the early 1970s and ‘80s, were nominated by Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons and the City of London Corporation’s Chief Commoner, Ann Holmes, to tie in with the 50th anniversary of women’s admittance to the London Stock Exchange trading floor – the notable date being 26 March 1973.
Speaking ahead of today’s ceremony, one of the women recalled working a three-day week by candlelight and with no calculators, describing conditions as ‘Dickensian’, while another listed a strong mathematical mind and an active interest in current affairs and economics as essential for surviving in the job.
The group attended today’s Freedom ceremony at the Lord Mayor’s official residence, The Mansion House, accompanied by family members and friends.
Speaking before today’s ceremony, Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons said:
“In making it on to the floor of the Stock Exchange 50 years ago, these remarkable women were ahead of their time and showed real courage, skill, and determination, enjoying the thrill of the job and frantic nature of fast-moving transactions.
“However, many of them had to put up with appallingly sexist behaviour which, back in the day, was regarded as acceptable or even expected, so today’s Freedom awards, which I am delighted to support, go a small way towards recognising their tenacity and commending their achievements.”
Chief Commoner of the City of London Corporation, Ann Holmes, said:
“When women on the trading floors were hugely outnumbered by men, these women, who were passionate about their work and determined to succeed, helped change the City’s landscape for the better.
“With increasing numbers of female traders in banks and boardrooms, but with much work still to do in this area, it is most gratifying to know that some of these women went on to fill senior roles in major banks and financial institutions.
“It has given me great pleasure to join the Lord Mayor in nominating them for the City’s award, and I have no doubt that they will remember today’s ceremony for many years to come.”
Hilary Pearson, who received the Freedom of the City of London today, said:
"Looking back to the 1970s when six of us "made history" by turning up to the office on 26 March 1973, working conditions were Dickensian, compared to the present day. The firm's computer occupied an entire room, and there were no desk top terminals or electronic calculators.
“Our arrival coincided with the start of the bear market, which lasted until December 1974, and saw the stock market lose 73% of its value. No wonder the members had tried to keep women out! I well remember the three-day week working by candlelight."
Sarah Danes, who received the Freedom of the City of London today, said:
"As a Women Member of The London Stock Exchange, I am humbled and proud to receive this recognition from Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons, the City of London Corporation, and the broader financial services community.
“As women who were not university-educated in those days, it was quite something to join an industry steeped in history and heritage - mostly, of men - in the 1970s and ‘80s. To have a strong mathematical mind, with an active interest in current affairs and economics, was essential.
“It is wonderful to see investing as a much more diverse place now, and especially wonderful to see the daughters and nieces of those original women members, following in our footsteps.”
Anthea Gaukroger, who received the Freedom of the City of London today, said:
"Things have moved on for women in the City since our day, but it's good that City traditions like the Freedom continue unaltered. I always enjoyed working in the City, and I am most honoured to receive the Freedom."
Julia Hoggett, CEO of London Stock Exchange plc, said:
“Congratulations to all the pioneering women who have been awarded the Freedom of the City of London today.
“These women broke the mould and in doing so, they broke a glass ceiling that many, many women in the City have been able to benefit from ever since. Their trailblazing paved the way for women’s inclusion in our industry.
“It is vital that we continue their work for the next generation and for future generations to come; to improve the participation and enfranchisement of women that are both working in, and receiving, financial services.”
City trader, Stacey Parsons, who played a key role in originating and supporting the traders’ Freedom awards, said:
“Today is an iconic moment in the history of the City of London, as we come together to celebrate and recognise those who challenged and changed the course of women entering in to the world of finance in the 1970s and ‘80s.
“I – and many other women in the financial services industry - owe these trailblazers a debt of gratitude, and I am thrilled to have been able to support the creation of this event, alongside Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons.”
One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.
As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.
Recent high-profile recipients include Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who initiated and led the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine; LGBTQ+ activist and London Night Czar, Amy Lamé; singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran, and former England football captain and Tottenham Hotspur striker, Harry Kane.
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The women awarded the Freedom at The Mansion House today are:
Hilary Pearson, LSE Original Woman Member in 1973; Anthea Gaukroger, LSE Original Woman Member 1973; Michelle McAtee, LSE Woman Member, late 1970/early 80s; Christine Spencer, LSE Woman Member, late 1970/early 80s; Linda Treacy, LSE Woman Member, late 1970/early 80s; Sarah Danes, LSE Woman Member, late 1970/early 80s; Janet Stevens, LSE Woman Member, late 1970/early 80s; and Beryl Gayler, LSE Woman Member, late 1970s.
Two of the former LSE traders, Susan Shaw, and Elissa Bayer, have already received the Freedom.