Proposal preview

Worthy women. Banking, consumption and feminine finances in the twentieth century

In global surveys the ownership of a bank account is an important indicator of gender equality (e.g. Global Gender Gap report by World Economic Forum). While the gender gap is still significant in large parts of the world in high-income OECD economies basically all adults, women as well as men hold accounts at financial institutions. This equal access has however a shorter history than one might think. Still, in the 1960s married women in many Western countries could not open bank accounts or sign for a credit card without their husband’s formal permission. Economic historians have studied women’s economic agency and emphasised their role in home accounting and consumption. There are also studies of women as capital owners, investors and entrepreneurs. This session will focus more specifically on the gendered aspects of consumer banking in the twentieth century and the banks’ efforts to increase their market among female customers.

How did the practices and institutional frames of female financial agency shift with the legal economic emancipation of women and as women increasingly accessed the labour market? How did banks target a female clientele before and after women’s full legal economic emancipation? And did the practices of everyday banking change when Mrs Consumers and Working Women entered the bank? We are interested in gendered marketing practices and gendered financial products such as women’s bank accounts and women’s credit cards. We also ask how the banks’ ambition to recruit female customers was related to the career opportunities of the bank’s female workforce and to the overall domestication of banking and financialisation of everyday life.

Participants and paper titles:

Sabine Effosse (Paris Nanterre University, France):
Banks and Women in the 1960s-1970s France : how did the « Bastille Day law » make women a new target for banking development ?

Orsi Husz (Uppsala University, Sweden):
The domesticisation of banks: Gendering financial knowledge and financial practices in in the 1950s and 1960’s Sweden

Maria Rosaria De Rosa (University of Naples, Italy):
In order to increase speculation”. Women, banks and credit dynamics in business in mid twentieth century Italy

Laure Quennouëlle-Corre (C.N.R.S.-C.R.H., Paris, France) :
Behind the scenes: Women working at the Paris Stock Exchange in the XXth century

Mark J Crowley, Wuhan University, China & Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo, Bangor University, UK:
Jobs for the Girls Revisited. The Rise of Automation and Female Clerical Labour in the British Financial Services Industry 1900-1950


  • Sabine Effosse, Paris Nanterre University,, France
  • Orsi Husz, Uppsala University,, Sweden

Session members

  • Sabine Effosse, Paris Nanterre University,
  • Orsi Husz, Uppsala University,
  • Maria Rosaria de Rosa, University of Naples,
  • Laure Quennouëlle-Corre , C.N.R.S.-C.R.H,
  • Mark J Crowley, Wuhan University,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Giuseppe Conti, Pisa University,
  • Youssef Cassis, European University Institute,