America’s big banks are starting to put women in charge

ON SEPTEMBER 10TH Citigroup announced that Jane Fraser would succeed Michael Corbat as its chief executive in February 2021. Ms Fraser will thus become the first woman to take the helm of one of the big Wall Street banks. Heidi Miller, formerly a senior executive at JPMorgan Chase, remarked that it was “about time”. She is not wrong.

Female CEOs remain few and far between in America’s boardrooms. In the Fortune 500, which ranks the country’s biggest firms by revenue, there are only 37—and that is the most ever. Not surprisingly, they are less rare in industries that employ lots of women, such as health care and hotels, than in male-dominated ones, such as transport and engineering. In finance, where around 40% of employees are female, only a handful of women have made it to the top. Margaret Keane heads Synchrony Financial, a consumer-finance company, and Beth Mooney ran KeyCorp, a top-20 bank, from 2011 until early this year. Even so, of the 91 financial companies in the Fortune 500, only seven have a female boss.

When Ms Fraser takes over, Citigroup will be by far the biggest bank in America with a woman as CEO. Even a giant carmaker was quicker to appoint a female boss than a giant bank: Mary Barra has run General Motors since 2014 (see chart). But Ms Fraser may not be alone at the top of Wall Street for long. Bank of America’s chief operating officer, Cathy Bessant, is rumoured to be a candidate to run Wells Fargo. And there are three women—Jennifer Piepszak, Mary Erdoes and Marianne Lake—in the running to succeed Jamie Dimon, the long-serving boss of JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank.

Editor’s note: a shorter version of this article appeared in the Finance section of the print edition under the headline “Women on Wall Street”.

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