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Women of the Credit Crisis: Where Are They Now?


On Wall Street, the glass ceiling remains firmly intact.

The past couple of years have claimed many victims on Wall Street, but there was a time when it felt like the finance sector's top women were suffering a disproportionate number of job losses.

First Zoe Cruz got the boot from John Mack at Morgan Stanley (MS). Then Erin Callan became collateral damage from Dick Fuld's efforts to keep Lehman Brothers in business. And then Sallie Krawcheck effectively got pushed out by Citigroup (C) chief executive Vikram Pandit.

In each case, it was a woman so close to shattering the glass ceiling she could practically feel it splintering by the force of her fingertips. Cruz was the co-president being groomed as Morgan Stanley's next CEO. Callan was holding her own against the short sellers as Lehman's chief financial officer. And Krawcheck, formerly Citi's chief financial officer, was widely praised as a future Wall Street leader before she turned 40.

And in a flash, the ceiling became cement again. Wall Street wasn't only unprepared for such a crippling credit crisis -- it wasn't ready for female chief executives either.

Gradually, the women are staging comebacks. Krawcheck was named head of wealth management for Bank of America (BAC) in August, and her name surfaced as a possible successor to chief executive Ken Lewis, although she looks to have long odds. And last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Zoe Cruz has a $200 million hedge fund in the works. Callan, who took a leave of absence from her new job overseeing the hedge fund business at Credit Suisse in February, still hasn't returned to work or provided an explanation for her departure.

While high-level female executives may have taken a toll as Wall Street crumbled during the credit crisis, another group of women has emerged as potential fixers of the massive problems. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair is cleaning up toxic banking sector, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro is hoping to help craft a new regulatory landscape for financial institutions, and quiet and amiable Elizabeth Warren is becoming a loud and powerful voice on how the government is handling taxpayer money for bank bailouts.

Would the credit crisis have been averted if women, more likely than men to be averse to risk, had been in power? We will never know. Will women help prevent the next one? Let's hope so.

Read on to remember six women of power in the credit crisis and to find out where they are now.

Zoe Cruz

The future looked bright for Morgan Stanley's Co-President Zoe Cruz in November 2007. She was on track to become the firm's next CEO and the first female to ever hold the position at a major Wall Street bank. Instead, she became one of the first major victims of the credit crisis when she was unceremoniously fired by boss John Mack. After bad trades in the division she ran resulted in a $3.7 billion loss for the company, Mack forced her out."I've lost confidence in you," Mack reportedly told her just weeks after acknowledging she was in line to succeed him. "I want you to resign." But the Cruz Missile, as she is known by friends and foes alike, is returning. The Wall Street Journal reports that she's launching a hedge fund, Voras Capital Management, to invest in distressed assets.
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