Melissa Fisher
Melissa Fisher

About the project

Melissa Fisher's contribution to the Global Foresight Project explores anticipatory governance initiatives and forecasting in institutions with the aim of understanding what kinds of knowledge and scenario building templates are involved in looking towards the future of gender, diversity and inclusion in global businesses and workspaces. The project is based on fieldwork conducted in think tanks, businesses, and professional women’s networks in the U.S. and Europe.

Short biography

Melissa Fisher is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. She is a cultural anthropologist who writes on finance, feminism, and business. Her first book, Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy (Duke University Press, 2006), a co-edited volume, brought together ethnographies exploring how cultural practices and social relations were altered by radical economic and technological innovations during the turn of the new millennium. Her second book, Wall Street Women (Duke University Press, 2012), tracks how the first generation of Wall Street women simultaneously built professional careers in finance while constructing market feminisms (1956-2010). She is working on a third book about gender, sexuality, diversity, and inclusion in finance and film. Based on fieldwork in the United States and Europe, it focuses on how social movements (from “Time’s Up” to “Me too” to “Anti-gender”) reflect and shape individual careers as well as well as organizational life and policymaking.

Fisher has received grants and fellowships including awards from the Social Science Research Council, the Alfred Sloan Foundation and the Institute for Advance Study at Lancaster University. She has given numerous key notes and talks nationally and internationally. Her book on Wall Street women received over twenty-five reviews in academic journals. Her research has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, The Guardian, The Times of India, CNBC, NPR and the BBC. She has written for publications such as Bloomberg and Bill Moyer’s Group Think. She has appeared on television and was featured in the Emmy nominated 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.

Fisher was most recently 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.  Fisher currently serves on a number of boards, including the Women Creating Change Leadership Council at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference. In addition, for the past 18 years, Fisher has worked as a consultant, applying cultural approaches to consumer and business research. As a US Delegate to the Women’s 20 in Argentina (2018) and Japan (2019), she advises on issues such as gender and financial inclusion. As a corporate ethnographer for Batten and Company, she advises global brands on how to effectively market to women and girls. Fisher earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University and her B.A. in English at Barnard College.

Selected publications

Monograph

2012

Wall Street Women. Durham: Duke University Press.

Peer-reviewed articles

2018

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

2017

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.

2016

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.

2015

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).

2013

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

2012

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

2010

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.

Anthology

2006

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

Chapters in Anthologies

2017

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.