Alumni Profile: Chelsea Barrows Rixner '11

  • Chelsea Barrows Rixner '11 Chelsea Barrows Rixner '11

WGSS Minor, 2011
Certified Financial Planner 

When I told my parents I intended to minor in Women’s and Gender Studies (not yet available as a major) they surprisingly didn’t question it, mostly because I think none of us really knew what it would entail. I took my first WGS course as a writing seminar and was instantly hooked on the material. Women’s and Gender Studies is so diverse. It made me look at things I thought I knew and question them, their relevance, their meaning. It made me question who I was and what my place was in the fabric of society. Women’s and Gender Studies is not a confined study. It involves history, literature, economics, philosophy, art, and anthropology to name a few arenas. It truly fits the definition of what the Liberal Arts does – provide an education on how to ask questions, seek answers, and participate meaningfully in society.

When I graduated, I hadn’t the slightest idea what I would do with my shiny new degree and an honors thesis on coming out of the closet. My mom, who was an English major turned financial advisor, convinced me to give financial planning a chance as a profession. I took the chance to not live with my parents in a suburban town outside of Scranton and moved to Philadelphia. I must first give many thanks to my professors for the countless hours I spent reading and digesting complex material as it enabled me to hunker down and earn my life, health and annuity license and stockbrokers licenses (series 7, 63, 65) in just over two months. It felt like studying for finals, just for a longer period of time.

Getting started in finance is a challenge. It is estimated that 95% of financial advisors will quit within the first 5 years. It has one of the lowest rates of female employment – despite the fact that most financial decisions are made by women, that women’s wallet share is set to outpace men’s in the coming years, and that it provides an incredibly flexible lifestyle that is excellent for working parents. I was scoffed at by the 40+ men in my division for having no financial background – I had after all only taken Econ100. It came as a grave shock to everyone when I was announced as one of the top 3 producing advisors in my division after 3 months. That’s when I started getting alternating attention in the forms of jealousy and undermining but also respect and questions as to how I was doing so well, so fast, with so little background.

Studying Women’s and Gender Studies and the Liberal Arts taught me to actively listen, analyze a situation, empathize with people dissimilar to me, and to find answers to questions that may not have even been asked yet. It allowed me to acknowledge confidently that I do not have all the answers, but that I can find the person who does.

Finance, like Women’s and Gender Studies, is not studied in a vacuum. I am dealing with family dynamics, fears, hopes, economics, money, raising children, ailing family members, and more on a daily basis. I need to do everything confidently so my clients are confident in me and the decisions we make together. Every client has a different set of goals and needs. My education in Women’s and Gender Studies allowed me to understand a type of dynamic thinking before I knew I’d have to apply it in the “real world”. Six years later, I now oversee wealth management in 3 states, earned my Certified Financial Planner® designation, and set my next goal on the CIMA®. Not too shabby for a girl with no finance background.



"Women’s and Gender Studies is so diverse. It made me look at things I thought I knew and question them, their relevance, their meaning. It made me question who I was and what my place was in the fabric of society."
Chelsea Barrows Rixner
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