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Meet the youngest full-time New York Stock Exchange female employee.

23-year-old Lauren Simmons is the youngest and only full-time female employee at the New York Stock Exchange.

She is an Equity trader for the Rosenblatt Securities.

"When I tell people what my job is they are always surprised," she told CNBC in an interview.

Simmons says that if you had told her 5 years ago that she'd end up working on Wall Street, she wouldn't have believed the news herself.

According to CNBC, the Georgia native had interned at a local clinical treatment centre in college, earning a BA in genetics with a minor in statistics.

She had planned to pursue a career in the medical field, but after realising that medicine wasn't her passion, she started searching for opportunities in other industries.

Simmons applied for positions in finance, she had loved numbers since high school, and eventually secured her current position at Rosenblatt Securities by applying to an opening posted on LinkedIn.

"The one thing that I love about numbers and statistics, and one of the reasons I came to the New York Stock Exchange, is because numbers are a universal language," she explains.

She started her role in March 2017, but says her employment was contingent upon passing the Series 19, the exam all floor brokers must pass to earn their badge.

"I had a month to take the exam," says Simmons.

"And when I tell you a lot of people did not think I was going to pass, they really did not think I was going to pass."

Despite her Math background Simmons had not studied finance in college, and had to hit the books hard.

When she passed, it shocked everyone.

It not only proved to the men on the floor that she was equipped to work alongside them but eased her doubts.

"When I see statistics that say '80 percent don't get through,' I look at the 20 percent," she says.

"So when everyone kept saying, 'It's a hard test. Don't worry if you don't pass,' for me, I needed to pass to prove to myself that I could do this."

Simmons says the financial services industry still has a long way to go to create workplaces that are welcoming to women.

In 1967, Muriel Siebert became the first woman eligible to trade on the floor. At the time, there was no women's restroom, so the exchange built a single bathroom booth on the floor. "That's a 'fun' story they told me when I got my badge," says Simmons.

Peter Tuchman, famously one of the most photographed traders on Wall Street, has been with the New York Stock Exchange since 1985 described the environment on the floor then as very family-oriented.

"It was not uncommon to see someone's father or grandfather also working there, but there were very few women."

"It's a bit of a men's club, and it has always been that way," he says, "Why are there no women in this business? It's because men suck,"

"It's like a locker room in a certain way," he says, "Men use language they probably shouldn't use. It's a lot of screaming, yelling, and it's super high stress. It's not that women can't deal with high stress, it's just not where women went."

"The environment towards women still hasn't changed in so many respects and it must change."

Earlier this month, Stacey Cunningham was named president of the NYSE. A one-time NYSE intern, Cunningham will be the first woman to helm the exchange since its establishment in 1792.

"I'm so excited," says Simmons.

She stated that Cunningham is as qualified as any other man, and probably even better and hopefully this would encourage other women.

Simmons says the best advice that she can give to anyone trying to prepare for a career on Wall Street, especially women, is to not limit themselves.

"Be uncomfortable and go after what you want," she says.

"Apply for the job, you have no idea what lies behind the door. And if you don't get the job, it's OK. 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."
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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Jun 14, 2018
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