The historical role of female investors is belatedly coming under the spotlight.
In recent years, industry research has documented the rise of female investors. A report by the Center for Talent Innovation titled Harnessing the Power of the Purse published in 2014 found that women in the US controlled 39% of investable assets at that time. But what has been the role of female investors in history? This article gives a brief overview of the part women played in funding the first era of globalisation, analysing their shareholdings on the London Stock Exchange from 1880 to 1913, and highlighting their decision-making processes.
Capital markets create opportunities for investors by providing a potential stream of income through the payment of dividends and capital gains that may come from rising values in the market, and the early 20th century saw the British capital market reach maturity before any of its global counterparts. Railway securities presented a profitable asset class during the first era of globalisation, representing about half of the capitalisation of all domestic equity listed in the UK, and constituting 49 of the 100 largest companies on the British stock market in 1911. Women investors were an important constituent of the shareholder base of some of the key British railways.