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Why a defiant young girl is staring down the Wall Street bull

NEW YORK — The Wall Street bull has company.

Early on Tuesday morning, State Street Global Advisors installed a statue of a defiant girl, with hands on her hips, chin high and pony tail out, in front of the charging bull.

The bronze statue, entitled “Fearless Girl,” was installed a day ahead of International Women’s Day.

“Fearless Girl” is designed to call attention to a new initiative by the asset-manager to increase the number of women on their clients’ corporate boards.

“Today, we are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action,” Ron O’Hanley, president and CEO of SSGA said in a statement. “A key contributor to effective independent board leadership is diversity of thought, which requires directors with different skills, backgrounds and expertise.”

SSGA invests in more than 3,500 companies in the U.S., UK and Australia. Altogether, it represents more than $30 trillion in market capitalization.

O’Hanley detailed the initiative in a keynote speech delivered at the Corporate Governance Symposium on Tuesday.

“Certain research shows that companies with greater levels of gender diversity have had stronger financial performance as well as fewer governance-related issues such as bribery, corruption, shareholder battles and fraud,” he said.

The statue will remain in its place for at least a week.