Melissa Fisher
Melissa Fisher

About the project

Melissa Fisher's contribution to the Global Foresight Project explores how workplace futurists create scenarios, models, and designs of the future workplace in an age of pandemics. The aim is to understand the forms of knowledge and cultural logics involved in designing and building Covid and Post-Covid workplace experiences. Of interest here are the ways expert practices might create more equitable and just workplaces, or reproduce hierarchies of class, race, gender, and power The project draws on four years of fieldwork with professionals predominantly in facility management, corporate real estate, and architectural think tanks and design consultancies based in Europe and the United States.


Short biography

Melissa Fisher, a cultural anthropologist, is a Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge and a Distinguished Principal Research Fellow at the Conference Board.

Melissa’s expertise lies in organizational studies, with a focus on globalization, technology, and work. Her first book, a co-edited volume, Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy (Duke University Press, 2006) explored how cultural practices and social relations were altered by radical innovations during the turn of the new millennium. Wall Street Women (Duke University Press, 2012) her second book, examines the first generation of women in finance (1956-2010). She is working on a third book about the future of work.

Melissa has given hundreds of key notes and talks nationally and internationally. Her Wall Street women book received over 25 reviews in academic journals. In addition, her research has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNBC, NPR, and the BBC. Her writings have appeared in publications such as Bloomberg and Bill Moyer’s Group Think. She appeared in the 2014 PBS documentary Makers: Women in Business. She also played an advisory role in the first female financial thriller film, Equity, a 2016 Sony Classic Pictures release. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the upcoming documentary and media project about gender and the global economy to be directed by feminist film director Marie Giese.

Melissa currently teaches in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Prior to joining the faculty at Columbia, Melissa was the Laurits Andersen Professor with Special Responsibilities in Business and Organizational Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. She has also been a faculty member in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University and the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University.  Melissa serves on the Women Creating Change Leadership Council at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference; The Institute for Diversity and Inclusion at the Conference Board; and The International Editorial Board for Observing Organizations, a book series by Bristol Press. In 2020 she was appointed the Co-Chair of the W20 Women’s Entrepreneurial Task Force on Covid-19. The W20 advises the G20 on gender issues.

Melissa earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Anthropology at Columbia University and her B.A. in English at Barnard College.


Selected publications



Wall Street Women. Durham: Duke University Press.

Peer-reviewed articles


Fisher, M., Villesche, F., et al. “Towards a powerful queer-feminist writing.” Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organizations,” Volume 18, issue 4. Forthcoming. 


Fisher, M., Nessous, C. and Perrottet, A.: "Fashion Is Political"?! Sustainable Fashion and Entrepreneurial Feminisms in Berlin. Femina Politica, pp. 127-135. 

Anthropology of versus anthropology for business: Exploring the borders and crossovers between an anthropology of business and anthropological consultancy. Special Issue of Journal of Business Anthropology. Edited by Daniela Peluso.


Building Alternative Feminist Economic Futures: WHEELS. Globalizations. Special issue on a Feminist Global Political Economy of the Everyday (edited by A. Roberts and J. Elias), online publication March, print July.


Wall Street Women: Saviors of the Global Economy? Special issue on Critical perspectives on the Globally Mobile Professional and Managerial Class, Critical Perspectives in International Business, 11(2).


Notes on the Anthropology of Gender in Finance. The Journal of Business Anthropology, 3, June.


Toward a Feminist Para-Ethnography on Gender Equality Policy Making in Business. Collaborative Anthropologies, 5, December.


Wall Street Women: Engendering Global Finance in the Manhattan Landscape. City and Society: The Journal for the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology, 22(2): 262-285.



Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy (with Greg Downey). Durham: Duke University Press.

Chapters in Anthologies

Fisher, M., Howaidy, G. and Sander, G. (Forthcoming). “Reflections on the PRME Gender Equality Working Group” in Morsing, M. (ed.) A global movement on responsible management education: journey, achievements and aspirations of PRME – a UN global compact initiative. Abingdon: Routledge.


Fisher, Melissa, and Amy Ye. 2020. “A Human Centric and Inclusive Approach to Work Wherever It Happens." The Conference Board. New York New York.


White Corporate Feminine Spirituality: The Rise of Global Professional Women’s Conferences in the New Millennium”. Ethnographies of Conferences and Trade Fairs: Shaping Industries, Creating Professionals. Edited by Anette Nyqvist and Hege Høyer Leivestad. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan.