Author: Carmen Triola
Occidental’s Blyth Fund, a 38-year-old student-managed investment portfolio, elected its first female president, Clare Shuey (junior), March 25. Shuey, who ran unopposed, will succeed President Cullen Cohane (senior) in overseeing the fund’s director performance, trade operations and agenda.
“It’s a fantastic achievement … in terms of putting females in positions of power, particularly in regard to finance,” Cohane said. “On the other hand, Clare’s a great candidate and a great person, and I think she’s the right person for that role.”
The fund is managed by a board of 14 student directors. Five years ago, there were only had two women on its board. The fund planned to address this disparity by seeking candidates outside of the male-dominated economics department, according to a 2010 Occidental Weekly article. In addition to Shuey’s landmark presidency, the board will have equal gender representation next year for the first time in its history.
“In terms of getting more women on the fund, that’s definitely been something we think about,” Cohane said. “Not just with women, but in terms of diversity of perspective.”
Although the Blyth Fund has an executive board, it does not have a hierarchical structure, Cohane said. According to William Huang (junior), a good friend of Shuey, the future president’s leadership style suits the egalitarian organization.
“She’s a very flexible leader,” Huang said. “She’s very good at getting people to put forth their best effort, but she’s not controlling and dictating.”
Shuey will work with Diplomacy and World Affairs Professor Sanjeev Khagram and Vice President of Finance and Planning Amos Himmelstein, who started advising the fund this spring.
Shuey, Cohane and newly elected Vice President Kwame Do (junior) decided to make a few minor changes to the club’s current structure. Meetings will be less frequent but last longer, and the process for voting on stocks will change as well. After proposing new stocks to invest in, directors will have until the next meeting to research and answer the questions of their fellow members.
Currently, Shuey serves as the club’s treasurer, which entails updating the club on market intricacies in addition to performing the duties of a regular director. She is also responsible for monitoring one of her key stocks, the Canadian National Railway.
Shuey said that while she did not experience gender discrimination at the Blyth Fund, she feels that the broader social pressures of being a woman, and a younger director, were inhibiting.
“I have noticed in the past that a lot of times women will be more reluctant to raise an objection or to ask a question if they don’t feel like it’s necessarily well-founded,” Shuey said. “And maybe I’m just speaking for myself … I felt like I had to know exactly what I was talking about to make a valuable contribution, and I was really self-conscious about that. That said, that’s something that’s possible to overcome.”
Cohane felt Shuey had overcome many of these initial roadblocks.
“There is definitely an adjustment process,” he said. “It’s intimidating, because there’s people who have been there for a while … but you’ve seen the confidence come, and you’ve seen her be someone who can be in that room and be the strongest voice in that room.”
Shuey said she was influenced by her mother, an Occidental alumna of 1978 and a certified public accountant. While her mother never attempted to persuade her to follow a similar path, her presence in the financial field helped normalize Shuey’s ambitions.
“Having my mom being the professional, and just working and doing accounting stuff and just generally defying gender roles all day, every day—I don’t really think about it that much, but I’m sure that is a large part why I don’t really feel inhibited or limited by my gender,” Shuey said.
Outside of the Blyth Fund, the Palo Alto native is an economics major and a double minor in history and philosophy. She first became interested in economics after taking advanced placement macroeconomics and microeconomics in high school, and said the discipline felt intuitive.
She also serves as the vice president of Phi Beta Lambda, Occidental’s business fraternity and was recently elected to be the Alpha Lambda Phi Alpha treasurer. In addition, Shuey has been a choreographer for Dance Production for the past two years, building on ten years of dance experience. She speaks French and Mandarin, and spent the summer of her sophomore year studying Chinese government and politics at Shanghai University.
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