Lauren Simmons, 23, is both the youngest and only full-time female equity trader at the NYSE, according to CNBC. “When I tell people what my job is they are always surprised,” she says of her history-making position for Rosenblatt Securities. “It’s surreal.”
Simmons graduated from Kennesaw State University in December 2016 with a BA in genetics and a minor in statistics. She initially planned to pursue a career in the medical field, but landed on Wall Street after recalling how much she loved working with numbers in high school.
“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 explains. “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.”
However, becoming a trader at the NYSE is far from a breeze. Before she started her role back in March 2017, she had to pass the Series 19, an exam that tests one’s knowledge of financial concepts and principles all floor brokers have to take. Roughly 80 percent of test-takers don’t get through.
Spoiler alert: She passed.
Being the sole woman on the floor has its everyday challenges, though. For example, the signature jackets worn by traders only come in men’s sizes, and the women’s restroom is further away than the men’s restroom. But believe it or not, the NYSE is ringing the closing bell on old ways as positive change is on the horizon.
Between Simmons’ own story and the recent news that the NYSE just named Stacey Cunningham as their first-ever woman president, she hopes these milestones will be encouraging to other women.
“Be uncomfortable and go after what you want,” Simmons says as a last piece of advice to CNBC. “Apply for the job — you have no idea what lies behind the door. And if you don’t get the job, it’s okay. 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.”