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Smart Woman Securities club helps women navigate the world of investing

| Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Notre Dame’s chapter of Smart Woman’s Securities (SWS) aims to empower the future generation of female investors at the University to help shatter the financial industry’s glass ceiling. The organization held its first meeting of the semester Monday evening.

Caitlin Gormley | The Observer
The Notre Dame chapter of SWS recently held its first meeting, as promoted on its Instagram page.

SWS is open to undergraduate female students of all experience levels who are interested in deepening their understanding of personal finance.

“Here at ND, our mission is to empower the next generation of female investors,” sophomore Margaret Sheehan, chief investment officer for SWS, said in an email. “We really just want to help [women] of all experience levels navigate the world of investing.”

Notre Dame’s chapter of SWS is a part of a larger national organization and is one of 25 chapters across the country. The organization was started by two 2007 Harvard College graduates, Tracy Britt and Teresa Hsiao, who noticed a barrier to women joining investing organizations.

“Most organizations did not focus on education from the introductory level, but rather catered to students who had already been investing for years,” the national SWS webpage says.

As a result, SWS was started to make the investment industry more accessible to those lacking prior exposure to the field. For Notre Dame’s SWS chapter, the goal is the same.

To achieve this mission, SWS hosts a variety of activities including employer events, student panels and an online investing portfolio. Given COVID-19 restrictions, SWS’s fall schedule looked different than normal years.

“In the fall semester, we usually have a 10-week long seminar series with guest speakers that teach our members all about the field of investing and financial services from the bottom up,” sophomore Sydney Young, chief executive officer of SWS, said. “This usually culminates in our members participating in an internal stock pitch competition that allows them to utilize the knowledge they’ve developed.”

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, SWS still has many events organized for the spring semester.

“We are planning a panel for our members to learn more about the careers in financial services, various women-focused networking events with companies and a stock pitch competition later in the semester,” Young said.

To become members of the club, students typically complete the 10-week seminar series, created by the national SWS organization, during the fall of their freshman or sophomore year. The curriculum at Notre Dame is taught by female professors in the Mendoza College of Business who present different accounting and financial topics each week. In light of the pandemic, SWS has converted the seminar series to a virtual platform to be completed at any time.

The club also connects women at Notre Dame who share a mutual interest in finance.

“I think one of the strongest resources at Notre Dame is the power of our network,” sophomore Sabrina Curran, chief operating officer of SWS, said in an email. “Upperclassmen, professors and young females in the field are eager to offer their insights and advice. It’s just a matter of connecting these women to one another.”

SWS strives to continue the momentum of increasing female representation in the finance industry at Notre Dame by empowering female students to pursue a career in finance.

“Coming to Notre Dame as a finance major, I didn’t actually know much about finance,” Jen Kent, first-year member of SWS, said. “But SWS has not only given me the education I need to invest in the financial markets, but also the confidence to do so in such a male-dominated industry.”

Any undergraduate woman who wants to join or learn more about the club, regardless of academic concentration and previous financial knowledge, can request membership on the SAO website or send an email to [email protected] for more information.

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