RTSWS Student Attends WAVE Conference

RTSWS Student Attends WAVE Conference

Last week, a Hunter College High School student and Rock The Street, Wall Street participant attended the Women’s Association of Venture & Equity (WAVE) conference. Here’s what she had to say about the experience:

On Friday, November 8th, 2019, I attended the third annual Women In Alternative Investments Career Forum hosted by the Women’s Association of Venture & Equity (WAVE) in New York City. The career forum brought together 300 young women and industry leaders for a day of networking designed to continue to advance the diversity of the field.

The event began with four panels featuring industry veterans answering questions submitted by the scholars. Students asked a wide variety of questions, but primarily focused on advice for how to be successful in the field. While each panelist came with their own perspective to these questions, they agreed on key themes for finding success: be proactive and go above and beyond what is asked of you; hard skills are the same among everyone, attitude and perspective are what makes someone stand out; find mentors, advocates, and challengers; push yourself outside of your comfort zone, don’t underestimate yourself and don’t be afraid to try.

 After the panels, everyone broke off into smaller round-table groups, each with a combination of scholars and professionals. Splitting into smaller groups allowed us to ask more specific and personal questions to the female financial professionals. The round-table captains I met with came from diverse backgrounds, who demonstrated and explained to the scholars that there are endless ways to achieve success in the financial services industry and that a unique approach is not only more rewarding but valued by potential employers. For a lot of the students, hearing this was a tremendous relief, as many of us are often pushed to follow a more traditional path.

Following the small group session, I met with Chrissie Chen Pariso, Senior Portfolio Manager of Private Equity at Exelon and Co-Chair of the career forum. She explained that after meeting with Rock The Street, Wall Street, she felt like the career forum could benefit RTSWS students, despite the fact that the forum is normally designed for college students. From my perspective, the forum definitely proved a great opportunity to not only network with professionals in the industry, but also to learn more about what life in the industry is like. The career forum ended with a career expo where the scholars could visit booths representing over 50 firms, learn more about them, network with them, and potentially open the door for future employment.

Overall, the WAVE career forum was a great experience and very educational and helpful. The involvement of so many large and successful companies showed their dedication to finding and recruiting new and diverse talent. As a high school student, the advice I learned at the career forum will be useful as I enter internships and jobs in college. Additionally, the welcoming nature of every attendee, both the professionals and the scholars, made me feel wanted and accepted in a stereotypically cold and cutthroat industry. Attending the career forum helped reaffirm my interests in finance and made me more likely to pursue a career in the field.

Seasons Changing

Seasons Changing

Seasons Changing

Is The Season Of The Gender Pay Gap Almost Over? Which Industries Are Closing The Gap? Which Ones Aren’t?

Ah, autumn. Crisp breezes carrying the scent of fresh baked apple pie slowly push out the wall of humidity summer had left behind. Pumpkins appear in produce aisles primed for carving and pies, and sweaters once forgotten are pulled out of closets along with a few cobwebs that need shaking off. Leaves change from greens to reds and golds, and suddenly, a new season is upon us.

At Rock The Street, Wall Street (RTSWS), a financial literacy nonprofit designed to spark the interest of high school girls into careers of finance, change is a topic that receives a lot of attention. However, RTSWS is not so much interested in the colors of the leaves or harvest moon hayrides (though we enjoy those things as much as the next girl), it is interested in change on a larger scale: A shift into an era where women are equally equally paid and equally investing their savings as their male counterparts and equally represented in the financial services industry as well.

Why is it paramount that these changes are made and made quickly? Because as of 2017, 41 percent of mothers are the breadwinners or co-breadwinners in their household. That number was 15.9 percent in 1967. It is more important than ever before that we teach our girls how to manage their money–and that means teaching them about savings, budgeting AND INVESTING, the part of personal finance that has been traditionally left to men for decades.

Girls in the RTSWS program learning about finance

So, with all that in mind, let’s look at which industries are signaling that things may be changing. Here are the five industries with the smallest pay gaps in the United States. (Click here to view the full report).

Editor’s note on the data we’re using: We choose to use the ‘uncontrolled’ gender wage gap data. Controlled data typically compares women and men who work the same position, with the same amount of experience. The reason we choose to use uncontrolled data is because we feel that controlled data does not take into account equality of opportunity. For example, “while technology does not have a good reputation for being female-friendly, it has the smallest controlled pay gap of any industry. However, there is a large difference between the controlled and uncontrolled gender pay gap in technology. Among other things, this is indicative of the fact that women and men do not have the same jobs within tech.”

Smallest Pay Gap: Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

The arts, entertainment, and recreation industry has the smallest gender pay gap

The industry that often makes the most noise about the need for equal pay–arts, entertainment and recreation–is also the industry that has the most equal pay in this country. While this is definitely worth applauding, it is worth mentioning that even in this industry, women still only make $0.91 for every $1 their male counterparts make.

Second Smallest Gap: Real Estate

With nearly a 50/50 split between the amount of men and women in real estate, it is a good sign that it has one of the smaller gender pay gaps. At $0.90 for every $1 men earn, the real estate industry has the second smallest gender pay gap.

Third Smallest Gap: Education

With a whopping 68% of America’s education workforce being women, one would hope that women are paid an equal wage. Education does have the third smallest gender wage gap of any industry, though women still only make $0.88 for every $1 that men make in the industry.

Fourth Smallest Gap: Accomodation and Food Services

The accommodation and food services industry is actually tied with the education industry for the third smallest gap, with women making $0.88 for every $1 that men make.

Fifth Smallest Gap: Tech

The fifth smallest gap comes in tech, which is a bit of a surprise. Men dominate the tech industry, making up 72% of the workforce, with only 28% of the workforce being occupied by women. However, the gender wage gap in tech is $0.87 per $1.

Those are the five industries with the smallest gender pay gaps. While each still has a gender pay gap, they deserve credit for working to pay their employees fairly, something many industries have not done, or not done nearly enough. Here are five of the industries that still have the largest gender pay gaps.

Largest Gender Pay Gap: Finance & Insurance

In the finance and insurance industry, women make an extremely disappointing $0.74 for every $1 a man makes. This gap is six cents larger than the next closest gap, and shows that the financial services industry is still lagging way behind the rest of the country when it comes to pay equality.

Second Largest Pay Gap: Agencies and Consultancies

In the agencies and consultancies industry, women make $0.80 for every $1 that men make. This gap exists despite the fact that there are actually more women in this industry than men.

Third Largest Pay Gap: Retail & Customer Service

At $0.81 per $1, retail and customer service has the third largest gender pay gap. 

Fourth Largest Pay Gap: Energy and Utilities

The energy and utilities industry has the fourth highest wage gap, with women making $0.82 for every $1 men make. Energy and utilities are also the second most male dominated workforce, with women making up only 19% of the workforce (construction has the smallest, with only 10% of its workforce being female).

Fifth Largest Pay Gap: Health Care

The healthcare industry has the fifth largest gender pay gap, with women earning $0.82 for every $1 men make. This occurs despite the fact that women make up over 75% of the healthcare workforce, making it the most female dominated industry on the list.

More About Finance

In full disclosure, we wrote this article to cover all industries, not knowing which industries would have better or worse gender wage gaps. However, the fact that finance as an industry has a gender wage gap that is significantly larger than every other industry shows why Rock The Street, Wall Street has made it its mission to transform the financial services industry.

After all, women make up only 2.5 percent of Hedge Fund Managers, 8 percent of Venture Capital Partners, 9 percent of Mutual Fund Managers, and 11.7 percent of Sr. Private Equity Professionals.

And we’re not the ones to sit on our hands and do nothing over here. We believe that by inspiring young women to pursue finance as a career, we are increasing the pipeline of talented women who will eventually rise to those ranks. Further, by having the financial industry take ownership of the problem by sponsoring RTSWS programs, we are playing an active role in getting more and more financial firms to reevaluate their own hiring practices and workplace cultures.

And that is the type of change that we are excited about.

Advice For Dads: How To Raise Girls To Be Interested in STEM Subjects

Advice For Dads: How To Raise Girls To Be Interested in STEM Subjects

Why You Should Want Your Daughter To Pursue STEM

  • Because you want to see her kick butt at everything she does of course! 
  • But besides that, why STEM? Because since 1990, the amount of people working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields has nearly doubled, going from 9.7 million to 17.3 million. The demand for employees in the STEM fields will continue to be strong for at least the next decade, and likely longer. On top of that, these jobs pay better than the average job, and expect continued wage growth.
  • Because the world will be a better place if she lives in a world with less inequality. STEM professions lift people out of poverty in one generation. While we cannot solve poverty in one generation, we can certainly have an impact on those we reach, particularly our underserved students–many of whom are first generation American and first generation college bound–who need to see the life altering power of STEM education. The U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in STEM job candidates and we need to harness the other half of the species’ brain power.

One Problem Though

Here’s the problem though, dads: Women are not entering the M in STEM fields at the same rates as their male counterparts. Before we bring out the age old stereotype of “girls aren’t good at math,” let’s pull some facts out. We know girls perform as well as boys on math tests, and at some ages, better. We cannot place the blame on aptitude. Rather, the issue is that girls are self selecting out of STEM careers. Whether it is because they think these subjects are uncool, they don’t see enough examples of female role models in these fields, or they think they will be unwelcome in these professional environments, our girls are inadvertently closing a lot of doors on highly meaningful, enriching career options. The good news is that because we know this issue has societal/cultural roots and not skill-based ones, we can solve it socially, and that’s where you come in, dads.

Things You Can Do To Help Your Daughters

Find projects in STEM that help others

Girls (and boys for that matter) often believe that STEM subjects are not a means to change the world.  This could not be further from the truth. Emphasize with your daughters that STEM subjects are actually inherently all about solving problems and that if they truly want to change the face of a neighborhood, a city, a state, the nation, they will need to know how the numbers work to get a seat at the table.

Change the stereotype of people who are good at math and science

We all know the stereotype: glasses, pocket protector, likely male, tucked in shirt. Many girls who are good at math throughout their childhood lose interest during adolescence due to negative social perceptions. They see their female teachers struggling with math at the whiteboard, and that math anxiety transfers over to them. Or they fear that being good at math will make them uncool. Instead, show them highly successful people who use STEM subjects in their jobs.

Teach a growth mindset

One of the most harmful things causing women to drop out of STEM subjects is perfectionism. STEM subjects are all about getting things wrong over and over again, but “failing upward.” Don’t let your girls quit after small failures. Encourage persistence, not perfection.

Embrace Failure

Related to the last one, teach your girls that failures are wonderful learning opportunities, not things to fear. Repeat after me: It’s okay to fail. It’s not okay to not try. Now repeat that to your daughters. It’s an old piece of advice but it still holds true.

Praise the process, not the outcome

This goes for any child, but reward children for the hard work they put in, not the end product. It builds confidence and shows kids to take pride in the work they are putting in. This also helps reduce perfectionism, as kids learn to value the journey, not the destination.

Teach them about successful women (or even better, introduce them)

Many girls run into the a common problem in a variety of STEM fields: most girls are not exposed to positive STEM role models. Here at Rock The Street, Wall Street, we address this problem by introducing girls to female financial role models in their community. Many of our students who come from communities where women do not occupy those roles say how the program opens their eyes. We tell them, “If you can see it, you can be it.”

Consider all-female learning opportunities

Even if your daughter is in a coed school, try finding an all-girls extracurricular activity, we know that girls learn STEM subjects better when it is just them in the room. Their confidence goes up and they feel more comfortable raising their hand and participating. It’s the reason we decided to offer our program to only girls and provide them with female teachers and mentors.

Incorporate Storytelling

STEM subjects and their history are filled with fascinating stories. Find good ones (particularly with female subjects) where girls can see people who work in STEM overcome adversity and use creativity.

Emphasize the skills that fuel STEM subjects

Instead of talking up science or math themselves, encourage curiosity, creativity, problem solving, etc. These are the skills that make people succeed at STEM professions more than anything else. For girls who are not particularly interested in STEM subjects, this can help them see the value.

Three Cool Math Games For Practicing Stock Investing

Three Cool Math Games For Practicing Stock Investing

Why Do We Care?

In interview after interview with experienced financial professionals, we hear a common refrain on how to get more girls interested in finance as a profession. “If girls would just try it,” goes the thinking, “they might realize that they really like it. Even better still, they might realize that they are good at it.” Here is an excerpt from our interview with Anu Aiyengar, J.P. Morgan’s Head Of Mergers and Acquisitions in North America:

“I would encourage young girls to get exposure [to finance]. Keep your mind open, give it a shot! If you try it, you may realize that you really enjoy it and you are good at it! You’ll realize, too, that’s what you’ll want to do. You want to have an impact, and you want to have fun doing it.”

So we’ve gone ahead and found three TOTALLY FREE stock investment games that anyone from beginner to expert can use to practice their stock investment skills. We’re encouraging any girls reading this to check out the sites recommended below and have a go. We’re encouraging mothers, fathers, teachers, family friends or anyone else to show these sites to the girls in their lives who might be interested. The sites below are equal parts entertaining and informative, and definitely worth checking out.

Wall Street Survivor

The game itself is great for beginners and experienced investors alike. After going through the courses and learning about the stock market, you can test the skills you’ve learned by investing $100,000 (not real money) in their hyper-realistic stock simulator. You’ll have access to all sorts of useful data on real companies to help you make your decisions. To make things fun, you can join leagues to compete against friends or strangers, and can even compete for real prizes in certain public leagues.


HowTheMarketWorks offers a large amount of material that makes it ideal for anyone from beginner to expert as well. Players start with $100,000 to use in real market conditions. HowTheMarketWorks was used in over 10,000 classrooms last year, from middle school through college.

Market Watch

Market Watch’s Virtual Stock Exchange is a less beginner friendly option for those looking for a good stock market game. The game itself does a nice job of simulating the market. Market Watch allows players to trade stocks in real time using their virtual portfolio, and emphasizes users’ ability to discuss strategy with other members of their group in game. Further, the game offers customization, similar to the other two, and includes a fair amount of in depth trading options.

Changing Investing and the Industry From a Male Perspective to a Female Perspective

As an organization, our mission is to increase both the amount of women entering finance as a profession and the amount of financially literate women, even if they choose not to pursue finance as a career. While there are certainly institutional barriers to women joining the profession, we know for a fact that one of the biggest causes of the lack of women in the field comes from girls self selecting themselves out. This can come from social norms that suggest a lack of confidence in STEM subjects, a lack of friends going into those profession, or simply a lack of interest in the field.

We know that the latter happens to be a larger factor than many realize. Girls often have an increased desire to work in fields that give back, hence why fields such as education, social work, and nonprofits tend to have comparatively more women than most professions. But what if we changed the narrative on finance while simultaneously increasing the pipeline of women interested in finance? Easier said than done, right?

Maybe not. What if we encouraged our girls to give finance a shot using programs like these stock simulators? What if we explained to them that you can carefully choose which types of companies they can invest in- such as companies that are socially responsible? What if we explained to them that changing WHERE we invest our money can change the world for the better? Let’s stop asking hypotheticals and start showing our girls HOW to change the world THROUGH FINANCE.

That’s A Wrap, Folks

That’s A Wrap, Folks

As spring turns to summer and students head into their last day of school, here at Rock The Street, Wall Street, we are also closing the books on the 2018-2019 academic year and shifting our gaze toward 2019-2020 and beyond. While we have much to look forward to in the coming academic year, we’d like to pause and look back on the year gone by, which, in many ways, was our best year to date. It was a year that challenged us and forced us to grow as an organization so that we could better serve our students, volunteers, sponsors, and our school partners. So, what were our standout moments during 2018-2019?

Doubling Our Impact

Up through June 2018, the most schools we had ever served in a single academic year was 9. This academic year, we worked with 18 schools in 13 cities across the country. Speaking of cities, we added six new cities this year: St. Louis, MO; Minneapolis, MN; Chicago, IL; Omaha, NE; Merrimack, NH; and Atlanta, GA. As a result, we significantly increased the amount of students we were able to reach this year as well, working with over 750 students between the fall and the spring, compared to 421 students last year.

More importantly still, increasing the quantity of students in our program did not impact the quality of the program we delivered to them. We had more corporate volunteers sign up than ever before, who combined to serve nearly 4,000 hours, compared to slightly under 2,000 last year. This level of commitment from our volunteers allowed our students to still receive the professional training and close personal attention from female financial role models that has made our organization the success it is. In the spring, we were still able to maintain our 2:1 student to mentor ratio, with many of our students receiving 1:1 mentoring. Lastly, and this should go without saying, none of this is possible without the support of our sponsors. We went from 16 sponsors last year to 21 sponsors this year, with many of our sponsors increasing the amount they donated as well.


Girls Rock Mergers and Acquisitions

Every year, our students go on field trips to financial institutions. These are fantastic opportunities for our girls to witness female role models working and excelling in STEM, specifically finance, positions. While each field trip is special, this year our NYC students had the opportunity to go to J.P. Morgan’s offices for a particularly unique opportunity. They were able to work on a real mergers and acquisitions case study with junior M & A female analysts, and then have their work reviewed by a panel of female senior executives. This event was probably the first of its kind in the history of the U.S. – female high school students being coached by an all female team of junior M & A investment analysts and then have the students’ work judged by an all female team of senior M & A investment analysts!

A Growing Board Of Directors and Advisory Board

As our organization continues to grow, it is important that we continue to grow our board such that we have the right people directing our organization toward a brighter tomorrow. This year saw the addition of several new board members. This year, we added the following members to our board:

  • Judy Ricketts, Managing Director and Head of Investor Services at TD Ameritrade
  • Christine Ritchie, Director of Compliance at CarVal Investors
  • Jennifer Knight, Senior Investment Analyst at Hospital Corporation of America, (HCA)
  • Anders Hall, CFA, Vice Chancellor for Investments and Chief Investment Officer at Vanderbilt University
  • Viraj Parik, Managing Partner at TechCXO

Industry Participation and Recognition

This year Rock The Street, Wall Street received support from significant players in the financial services industry. In the fall, Tim Hockey, President and CEO of TD Ameritrade, stopped by our students’ field trip in Omaha and joined a panel discussion on pursuing a career in finance. In the spring, Christopher Ailman, CIO of the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), the second largest pension fund in the U.S., wrote a letter to money managers endorsing RTSWS and encouraging more firms to change the “Wall Street culture.” The Women’s Bond Club Of New York City, honored RTSWS founder and CEO, Maura Cunningham, with its Betty Cook Award, which recognizes the contributions of an exceptional woman who has devoted much of her career to helping other women.


Rock The Street, Wall Street In The News

RTSWS made some splashes in news segments around the country as well this year. Leticia Ordaz from KCRA in Sacramento reported from CalSTRS during the C.K. McClatchy High School and Rosemont High School “Wall Street Experience” field trip. An Omaha news reporter covered RTSWS at TD Ameritrade as Burke High School students heard from experts in the financial field. Maura Cunningham was interviewed by Meg Modic at Nasdaq in NYC as well. 


While the past school year was an amazing year for Rock The Street, Wall Street, the summer is also shaping up to be an eventful one. RTSWS high school students across three cities will be interning at various financial institutions. Look for a piece on this later in the summer.

Excited For Things To Come

All in all, 2018-2019 was an amazing academic year for Rock The Street, Wall Street. We were able to impact more girls’ lives than ever before with the help of our schools, sponsors, and volunteers. Things continue to look up for us, as 2019-2020 promises to be an even better year. We will announce the number of schools and cities for next year later this summer.