The Only Full-Time Female Trader At The New York Stock Exchange Is 23 And Black

June 22, 2018  |  

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Is it just me or is it sometimes hard keeping up with all of the Black girl magic happening all the time?

So, in case you missed it, there’s one young black woman that you must know about right now – Lauren Simmons. At 23 years old, she is the only full-time female trader at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In an interview with CNBC Make It, Simmons noted that every time she tells people what she does, they’re always surprised. The trading floor is ruled by older white men who use their loud voices to be heard, a lesson that Simmons learned early on.

“When I first started, when I would represent myself in the crowd on the floor, often I would be a little mousy. I know that they hired me because I was qualified, so I have to not listen to self-doubt. Just because you’re part of their world, doesn’t mean you need to be a man. You just need to be yourself,” she said.

Not only do men physically dominate the floor, but the overall culture reflects that as well. In something as simple as attire, the famous jackets that traders wear only come in men’s sizes.

“[The jackets] only come in men’s sizes, unfortunately,” Simmons said. “I do have some that have been tailored, but there are like 10 pockets on the jacket so when you do tailor it, it just does this weird thing.”

Although she has some hills to climb being the only full-time female trader on the floor, it’s all worth it because she loves what she does.

Simmons moved to New York after graduating from Kennesaw State University in December 2016. With a B.S. in genetics and a minor in statistics, she planned to pursue a career in the medical field. But she realized she no longer had a fire for it, so she explored other options. And numbers were where her heart was.

“The one thing that I love about numbers and statistics, and kind of one of the reasons I came to the New York Stock Exchange, is because numbers are a universal language,” she explained. “When you put them on a board it connects everyone, which is probably one of the reasons why the New York Stock Exchange is so iconic.”

Simmons has been with the NYSE since March 2017, but her continued employment was contingent upon passing the Series 19, an exam that all floor traders must pass. By the way, 80 percent of testers fail.

Although some thought that Simmons would not pass the test, she chose to look at herself as one of the 20 percenters.

“When I see statistics that say ’80 percent don’t get through,’ I look at the 20 percent,” she said. “So when everyone kept saying, ‘It’s a hard test. Don’t worry if you don’t pass,’ for me, I needed to pass to prove to myself that I could do this.”

And indeed, she passed.

Simmons encourages other women to go after what they want and to continue to do so even when walls are presented.

“Be uncomfortable and go after what you want,” she declared. “Apply for the job — you have no idea what lies behind the door. And if you don’t get the job, it’s OK. Apply for the next job and move forward. Don’t let that be a stop in your career, your life or whatever you want to do. I think it’s important to just keep going.”

Renese spends her early mornings writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog. Follow Renese on Twitter: @reneseford

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