Date of Completion


Embargo Period



women, banking, united states, history

Major Advisor

Christopher Clark

Associate Advisor

Micki McElya

Associate Advisor

Peter Baldwin

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


This study examines the experiences of women bank officers within the larger context of economic, demographic, and social change in the United States from 1870 through 1930. As demands for capital grew, banks had to reevaluate their business practices while navigating the societal trends of the early twentieth century. In order to stay profitable, it was imperative for the banking industry to adjust to evolving gender and race ideologies and the employment of women became one strategy to expand their customer base. Women carved out areas for themselves within the banking field by using the ideology of maternalism to argue that their nurturing natures made them ideally suited to customer service. As banks increasingly focused on acquiring new depositors, they appointed women bank officers, because they believed women would be more patient and kind than men officers. Women bank officers were particularly valued for their ability to appeal to a female clientele, because bankers believed women preferred to get financial advice from another woman. Women were found primarily in two areas: women’s banking departments that catered only to women, and home economics departments that provided budget advice. The connections women brought into banking, especially through their membership in powerful women’s clubs and organizations, provided banks with a wide range of valuable customers, both institutional and individual. The extensive array of services provided by women’s departments became the model for the banking industry as banks struggled to hold onto their customers during the Great Depression.

Available for download on Sunday, August 22, 2027