March is Women’s History Month and historically when women have had the opportunity to manage their own finances, many have done quite well and used their resources to support themselves and their communities…but women do not always play fair or nice.
In “Infamous Female Financiers,” Investopedia looks at bad girls in finance and comments that despite stereotypes, men are not the only ones who misbehave in business.
What Evangeline Adams did in the early 20th century may not be criminal now, but in her day fortunetelling was against the law. She made good money as an astrology consultant to the rich and famous of her day. When she was arrested for her astrology business, she presented the judge with evidence of the principles of astrology and applied her knowledge to describing the judge’s some based on the boy’s birthday. She was acquitted.
Woodhull and her sister Tennessee were the first female stockbrokers in the U.S. and opened their own brokerage with the backing of Cornelius Vanderbilt. While some may not have been pleased with their success, Woodhull and her sister really courted controversy when they used their profits to publish a magazine that advocated for women’s rights and sexual freedoms. After an arrest and acquittal for publishing reports on a prominent clergyman in retaliation for people digging up dirt on her, the twice-divorced Woodhull left the U.S. for England.
While you may not know much about Adams or Woodhull, you probably remember when Stewart, who built an empire founded in domestic arts, was sent to jail for insider trading. Although she professed innocence, Stewart got in trouble for selling a company’s stock the day before it was devalued because the FDA didn’t accept one of its innovations. She was incarcerated for half of her sentence and then served the rest of her sentence at home.
Upon leaving jail, Stewart caused a sensation wearing a crocheted poncho that was widely admired and imitated. Her company did not fold while she was away and continues to this day.