Marcy Syms

Marcy Syms was born into a family with immigrant origins. She grew up in Brooklyn and Yonkers, New York, where she was steeped in the cultural and religious traditions of her Jewish heritage. From an early age, Marcy was drawn to the arts, a passion that would remain with her throughout her life. However, her journey was not without its challenges. As a young girl, she encountered the restrictive gender roles and expectations of her time, which would later inform her advocacy for feminism. Her educational path was marked by struggles, yet she persevered, eventually becoming the youngest woman to serve as president of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company. This milestone was a testament to her tenacity and business acumen, particularly in the face of the discrimination she faced as a Jewish girl in Bronxville and the adversity of battling a life-threatening illness. Marcy's professional narrative is intertwined with her personal one as she navigated the complexities of being a high-powered businesswoman and a mother, all while contributing to the progress in scientific knowledge and medical practice.

Scope and Content Note

This interview with Marcy Syms provides a comprehensive overview of her multifaceted life and career. The interview delves into her upbringing, highlighting the influence of her family's immigrant background and her Jewish roots on her personal and professional ethos. It touches upon her early encounters with feminism and the societal pressures she faced, which shaped her perspective on gender roles. Marcy candidly discusses the discrimination she endured, her health struggles, and the significant achievement of leading her family's company, a move that brought both success and friction within her familial relationships. Her tenure as a business leader is explored, particularly the challenges she faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry and the friction with her father's expectations. Marcy's commitment to activism is a recurring theme, with a focus on her involvement with the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Project at Columbia Law School. She emphasizes the importance of philanthropy, social justice, and the strategic legal efforts required to advance the ERA. The interview also covers her participation in Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative, her association with the American Heart Association, and the values that have guided her work. Marcy shares insights into the ongoing struggle for gender equality, the need for workplace reforms to support working mothers, and her hopes for the future of democracy.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Marcy Syms. Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum. 3 October 2023. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/syms-marcy>.

Oral History of Marcy Syms by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.