The above title comes from a quote by, Eva Moyle-Amerl found in this fantastic interview reflecting on her career: https://www.rbcwealthmanagement.com/ca/en/news-events/events/international-womens-day-2018-she-broke-the-law-to-speak-up-for-inclusion/detail/
Her story is an important one that long ago deserved the accolades she is now getting in retirement. However, like many things in life, true renown doesn’t happen until after you are gone. Vincent Van Gogh is considered one the most influential painters in history but during his life, his work was thought of as “too dark” and was not popular. His greatness was recognized much later in life. J.S. Bach, Paul Gauguin, Herman Melville - all greats of their areas that only received recognition after the fact.
I think this is because we reward conformity in the present but reward non-conformity in the long run. Eva was definitely a non-conformist in “Toronto the Good” of 1976. Sticking up for what you believe in is terribly easy when everyone believes it but excruciatingly difficult when no one agrees with you. As a young woman from a foreign country with a young son and newly single, she was the epitome of “non-conforming” in 1970’s Canada. That she was highly educated, well-travelled and full of confidence did not sit well in the male controlled world of “high finance”.
What she did took her unique level of persistence/stubbornness and non-conformity to accomplish. To seek out a career in an industry that actively viewed women as “secretaries” and not smart enough to be Brokers took real grit. To stand up for what she believed in (that she absolutely was smart enough and every bit the equal of any man) and risk criminal prosecution and societal persecution took grit times 100. What got her through those hard times was confidence and perseverance. Always.
Clients of mine reading this know that I have intentionally buried the lede on this post. I can speak of Eva’s career because I worked alongside her for 13 and a half years. We shared an office and built a great team but also a strong friendship over that time. I have heard the stories of her career and they would make any man blush today. She did not ask for any recognition for her efforts.
I know this bit of publicity on Eva’s story took a lot of arm-twisting to get done. I am happy that it is happening because it is a story worth knowing. It is important to know that your merits matter more than your gender. It is important to remember our history and to be reminded of the past as a way to keep on track for bettering our world today.
When I first came to interview for the job to work with Eva, several people gave me a warning about how tough she was to work for and that she was “difficult”. The rumours were partly true. She was tough, absolutely. You have to be tough to be successful when everything was stacked against her at the start. We are an industry that is still very masculine but it is slowly changing. That will continue to happen and the gap will continue to close as more women find out that they are great investors and that this is a job about helping people more than it is about picking the next big stock.
Eva deserves the recognition for her accomplished career and the fierce battle for acceptance of women in the industry. In Canada, about 18% of the Investment Advisors are women. That is a shocking number to see after 42 years. Eva’s career may be done but the work she started in 1976 is not done. To get more women Advisors it will take plenty of work but I know we can get there. More importantly it will take two really important traits. Confidence and perseverance. Always.