The first woman on the show floor

“Today was a momentous day in the history of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. H.M. the Woman made her entrance into the temple, which until now has been the undisputed territory of the man.” Thus the Handelsblad of April 16, 1923 described the joining of the fellowship of Miss Henriëtte Wilhelmina Deterding, the first female member. She was ushered in by scholarship chairman W.G. Wendelaar, and there were flowers. Her membership lasted until 1931. Yet the arrival of Miss Deterding was not a harbinger of a new era. The stock market was and remained a man’s stronghold.

Johanna Borski-van de Velde, who lived from 1764 to 1846, might have been jealous of Miss Deterding. Johanna operated – after her husband’s death in 1814 – a considerable financial empire, the Firma Weduwe Borski, including commission agents in securities. She dwelled in the highest financial circles and ran the company as successfully as her husband had done. However, one thing she had to hand off to her male power of attorney and that was representing the firm at the fair. In those days, women were only allowed in there as spectators.

In February 1975, the Exchange welcomed the first three female Exchange clerks: their arrival was made possible by an amendment to the clerk regulations. That this was accompanied by songs such as “Oh, how beautiful you are,” and “You can only look at it,” indicates that this was a special event even then. And although nowadays the number of women in the stock market industry has increased, the arrival of the first female stock market chairman in 2019 was still a special event.