Stocks & Commodities V. 30:13 (48-53): Interview: Joyce Selander by Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan & Bruce Faber

Stocks & Commodities V. 30:13 (48-53): Interview: Joyce Selander by Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan & Bruce Faber
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Joyce Selander by Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan & Bruce Faber

It takes skill and ego and nerve to trade in the pits, and this was especially the case decades ago for one of the earliest female traders. Joyce Selander was the first woman to physically trade financial futures in the pits at the Chicago Board of Trade. She continues to work as a member/trader at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Through her work, she has met diplomats and US Presidents and has seen chaos and mayhem in trading. She chronicled her experiences in the pits in her book Joyce: Queen Of The Mountain.

Stocks & Commodities Editor Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan and Staff Writer Bruce R. Faber spoke with Selander via telephone on January 18, 2012.

Joyce, can you tell us what got you started in the trading pits?

When I saw the excitement my first day down in the pits, I knew it was what I wanted to do. Back in the 1960s, women were usually expected to become schoolteachers or nurses. Once in a while, you would find a girl who wanted to become a doctor, and if she ended up going through with it, she would often be harassed by her coworkers. So I had that in mind when I decided to walk into a man’s world, and I did it because it just turned me on and gave me goals and ideas about what I wanted to do in life.

What kept you going?

Every morning, every single day, I would wake up depressed. But I would say to myself, “Okay, I am going to get’em today!”

That is what it was like. But I think it is like that with every trader. It is no different because I am a woman. You have to force yourself to get up and face the day. I’d jump out of bed like an idiot, and run and get dressed and stare at the trading screens.

How did you get in the door?

I was working at a bank and I was doing margins on marketable collateral stocks and bonds. A headhunter called me one day and said, “If you can compute margins on stocks and bonds, can you do them with commodities?” In 1968, commodities included cattle and hogs. I said I could, so they sent me on an interview at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). I walked in and I got hired. Then two days after I started, I found a big problem in the company that I alerted them about. After that, my supervisor moved me down to the floor.

So in two days I was running a floor operation. At the time there were two other women, and we were not allowed to go into the pits. But I just kept going into the pit anyway, and every day they would fine me. But how else was I going to run a floor operation? I had to go in to pull an order or get my boss out of there.

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