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Madeline McWhinney Dale (1922–2020), pioneering Fed banker

by Linnea Crowther

Madeline McWhinney Dale was a banker who broke new ground for women in finance as the first female officer of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Trailblazing career

Dale was the first woman to run for election to the board of trustees of the Federal Reserve Retirement System in 1955, after she had been working for the Fed as an economist for 12 years. She campaigned hard for the position, and she won – in a landslide. Five years later, at a time when most banks wouldn’t let a woman open a checking account without her husband’s permission, Dale became the Fed’s first female officer. She later became its first female assistant vice president. Dale served as president of the First Women’s Bank, founded by prominent feminists including Betty Friedan (1921 – 2006), for two years in the 1970s.

Dale on how she rose in her career

“I did the things that the men didn’t want to do, and one of them in those days was the computer. That was very fortunate for me, because it led to a lot of other very interesting things.” —from a 2008 oral history interview for the Fed


What people said about her

Full obituary: The New York Times

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