Working Moms on Wall Street: Advice on Balancing Motherhood and Your Career

By Inessa Ruffman, JonesTrading, 2024 STA WIF Chair & Christine Lee, Liquidnet, 2024 STA WIF Vice Chai

Growing up in New York City, a fast-paced environment where most people were hyper-focused on their career and the ability to support a life in an expensive city, I never put much thought early in my career into what would happen if I had a family. It wasn’t until I met my husband and moved away from New York that I was able to slow down and have a deeper conversation with myself if I was to have children. Here are the questions I would ask my younger self:

  • Do I want to be a stay-at-home mother or continue working a demanding Wall Street schedule?
  • If my career is something that is really important to me, would I be happy being away from my child daily and missing important milestones?
  • How much does childcare cost and what are the childcare options?
  • What is the cost of stepping away from the professional life and what are the challenges of getting back in?
  • What are maternity leave policies within my company and state?

It’s important for women to think about these questions early on to have an idea of what balancing motherhood and a career might mean, and start preparing financially for it as well. One thing my mom and grandmother always taught me is that tracks are built prior to the train coming, and I should have listened to that advice more.

– Inessa Ruffman, 2024 WIF Chair

The most valuable advice my mom ever gave me came during my maternity leave. She encouraged me to return to work, assuring me that I could successfully balance raising children with pursuing my career. Looking back, it truly was the best guidance I received. Transitioning back to work as a new mom was challenging, but she reminded me of the dedication I had put into building my career. She emphasized that the sacrifices, like potentially missing important milestones in my children’s lives and sleepless nights, would ultimately pay off.

The financial stability gained from contributing to our family’s income, setting an example for my children by showing them that women can have fulfilling careers, and the fulfillment of continuing to pursue my passions alongside motherhood—all of these have proven incredibly rewarding. Even during those sleepless nights of tending to a baby and the daunting prospect of a full day of work ahead, I am thankful for the people that surrounded me with encouragement to persist. As exhausting as working-mom-moments are, they bring about substantial personal and professional growth through perseverance.

Regarding the issue of maternity leave, I faced challenges with a subpar policy when I had one of my children. However, I decided to take action and met with the Head of Americas and the Global Head of HR to advocate for change in the maternity leave policy. This led to the firm changing the maternity and paternity policy for all expecting employees. This experience taught me the importance of standing up and speaking out to “the system” for working moms. Surprisingly, I found widespread support from men, fellow working moms, and those without children. Companies and people genuinely want to see us succeed and are willing to offer support, but it’s up to us to advocate for ourselves and drive change.

– Christine Lee, 2024 WIF Vice Chair

It’s undeniable that working mothers on Wall Street, who commit to balancing their careers with raising children, warrant substantial support from their employers. Companies that prioritize the well-being of working mothers aren’t just nurturing their own future success, but are also investing in the future of our country.

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