Women Pioneers Ushering in Credit Unions

Women’s History Month in March can be observed in any number of ways — be they cultural, political, social, or economic — that recognize women’s achievements and influence in helping create today’s world and its future. 

QCash Financial celebrates women’s fundamental influence in the credit union industry. Women have persisted and excelled,ultimately helping lift the industry to new heights. Continuing to rise above the obstacles that for many decades were often seen as insurmountable, a 2018 study by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) found that as many as 52 percent of credit union CEOs are women, leading the financial services industry.

While celebration is certainly warranted, there is still much work to do. Unfortunately, the majority of female  CEOs run smaller credit unions and get paid much less than their male counterparts. And despite making up 70 percent of the industry workforce, women still earn only 76 percent of what men earn overall, resulting in an average lifetime differential of $250,000. 

However, such statistics are hardly enough to dampen the accomplishments women have made in the credit union industry since its inception, and the organizations and tools that make financial health more accessible to tens of millions of Americans today.

So, in honor of Women’s History Month, QCash Financial is highlighting a couple notable figures who have helped make possible the future financial health of generations through the institution of America’s credit unions. 

Louise McCarren Herring

No celebration of Women’s History Month as it pertains to the credit union industry can be held without paying homage to “the mother of credit unions,” Louise McCarren Herring.

Fresh out of the University of Cincinnati in the early days of the Great Depression, Louise witnessed what debt did to good people. She was incensed by the “Bucket Shop,” a loan operation similar to today’s predatory payday lenders that charged outrageous interest rates for personal loans borrowers couldn’t otherwise get from banks. After setting up 13 different credit unions on behalf of her fellow coworkers at the Kroger Company, the credit union movement began to take hold around the United States. Soon after, the 20-something Herring was asked to help establish a new national organization representing the entire industry, the Credit Union National Organization, or CUNA.

Herring would go on to become the first managing director of the Ohio Credit Union League, traveling around the state to help people start their own credit unions. Louise McCarren Herring was a staunch believer in economic democracy, equal financial opportunity and access to quality and affordable financial services. She is a credit union pioneer in every sense of the word. 

Dora Maxwell

You know you’ve made a difference when the leading industry organization in the U.S. names its Social Responsibility Community Service Award after you. Next to Louise McCarren Herring, Dora Maxwell was a credit union pioneer and a fellow signee of the CUNA constitution that day in Estes Park, Colorado, in 1934. 

She worked as an organizer in the credit union movement’s trade association and managed several local and national volunteer positions. Maxwell also excelled at creating hundreds of credit unions, while growing volunteer organizer clubs and working with organizations on behalf of the poor. 

One can only wish that Louise McCarren Herring and Dora Maxwell could foresee the credit union movement they began. QCash Financial’s digital small dollar lending platform is a continuation of Herring’s dream to provide working Americans the institutions, tools, and access necessary to improve financial health. As the movement continues to evolve, the foundation these two pioneers laid for the future of finance around the world cannot be forgotten.

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