Wednesday 21 March 2018

Fearless Girl statue stares down Wall Street's famous bull

The Fearless Girl statue faces Wall Street's charging bull in New York (AP/Mark Lennihan)
The Fearless Girl statue faces Wall Street's charging bull in New York (AP/Mark Lennihan)

A new statue of a resolute young girl facing Wall Street's famous Charging Bull has been erected by an asset managing firm for International Women's Day.

The statue was put in place in New York to make the point that there's a dearth of women on the boards of the largest US corporations.

Boston-based investment giant State Street Global Advisors had the statue created to push companies to increase the number of female directors.

Artist Kristen Visbal's Fearless Girl drew both tourists who came to pose for pictures with the bull and workers arriving at their jobs in the Wall Street area.

The girl, sculpted in bronze, appears to be staring down the bronze bull, her hands firmly planted on her waist. Her head is held high, with a ponytail that looks like it's swinging.

"Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference," reads a plaque at her feet.

"As a steward of nearly 2.5 trillion US dollars of assets, we want to engage with boards and management around issues that we think will drive core results," said Lori Heinel, State Street's deputy global chief investment officer.

"And what you find repeatedly is having more diverse boards and more diverse senior management will actually drive better results for companies."

Twenty-five per cent of the Russell 3000 - an index of the nation's largest companies - have no women on their boards, according to State Street, which manages many of their assets. Nearly 60% have fewer than 15% of female directors.

Ms Heinel said State Street will contact those companies, urging them to change the composition of their leadership.

The mammoth bronze bull was a guerrilla art act, dropped in the middle of the night in Bowling Green Park in 1989, without permission, by an artist who created it as a symbol of Americans' survival energy in the face of the 1987 stock market crash. The city gave its permission for the bull to remain.

This week, McCann New York, a top advertising agency, dropped off the statue of the girl - with a city permit for at least a week. Negotiations are under way for the piece to remain there longer.


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