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Rock the Street, Wall Street: Inspiring female students to pursue finance careers

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 5/04/2022

The financial industry has traditionally been primarily a male enterprise, but that is about to change. Since 2013, a financial and investment literacy program for female and nonbinary high school students known as Rock the Street, Wall Street (RTSWS) has been working tirelessly to inspire young women to pursue careers in finance.

Let’s begin with the top problems females currently face in both financial services education and in the finance job market: underrepresentation and lack of perceived interest. According to the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, women make up only 24% of leadership roles in financial services firms.

Maura Cunningham, CEO and founder of Rock the Street, Wall Street explains the top reasons why girls are not choosing STEM professions: “They don’t see women in those professions, and they don’t see girls in their class nor their friend groups choosing STEM studies. Without female role models, female students find it difficult to picture themselves in these positions, and it can negatively impact their interest in pursuing STEM studies in high school. This results in a perceived lack of interest by female peer groups, which in turn, further compounds the problem.”

The solution begins with reaching out to female students at a critical age and cultivating an interest in finance education. Since 2013, RTSWS has served more than 4,000 female students in 51 high schools across 26 cities in the U.S. and Canada. With branches already supporting students in the Houston and Dallas areas, RTSWS has interest coming in from all over Texas and plans to expand to Austin during the 2022-23 school year.

"RTSWS sparks girls' enthusiasm for finance at a critical age and makes them aware of the societal benefits that personal financial knowledge and math-oriented careers can have,” Cunningham says. “Our program is designed to get girls re-engaged with the M in STEM by exposing them to real-life, positive money management role models and looking past traditional stereotypes to observe and learn from women with rewarding careers in the financial field."

The goal of RTSWS is to invest in the future of female students and to change their mindsets at a young age. By employing an all-female team made up of financial professionals from local communities, the program provides participants with a substantial academic support system and network of mentors and industry professionals whose bonds extend far beyond the program duration.

During the full-year program, students attend presentations and workshops led by female financiers and entrepreneurs, as well as go on field trips to all sorts of financial institutions, including banks, state and corporate treasury departments, and entrepreneur centers.

The capstone is a “Wall Street” field trip where participants get the chance to visit corporate office settings and shadow female treasury officers, wealth managers, comptrollers, accountants, entrepreneurs, and more. This unique experience opens students’ eyes to prominent positions in the finance industry and allows them to envision themselves in a similar role.

As RTSWS continues to grow and help young women all over the country discover an aptitude and passion for finance, you may soon find the program in a school district near you.

If you would like to learn how your district can bring RTSWS to your school or if you would like to become a sponsor or volunteer, visit the RTSWS website.