News in the Los Angeles Times about a new statue installed on Wall Street is reported with an apparent straight face when a smirk would be more fitting. (More about the sly smiling in a moment). The sculpture faces the long-standing effigy of a steer known as Charging Bull, which is meant to signal the strength of the financial district; although this column has always thought it looks more like a raging bull seeing red than an emblem of optimism. But that’s not what’s prompting the sneer. (That comes in the next paragraph). The new kid on the block is a little darling called “Fearless Girl” with hands on her hips and her feet set wide apart the way small fry look when they balk at their bedtime.

Here comes the ha-ha

According to the news report, ”Fearless Girl” is meant to remind the powers that be on Wall Street that there aren’t enough women in the boardroom. This is where the smirking comes in? No one seems to have noticed that the statue describes a girl, not a woman. A plaque for the statue says, “SHE makes a difference.” Can a moppet do that? In her little short skirt, the statue is reminiscent of the urchin in tutu in Degas’s sculpture “Little Dancer,” which is unfortunate since the artist was a male supremacist known for thinking of women as animals.

A just cause with an injudicious emblem

None of this is to say that the cause for installing “Fearless Girl” isn’t just. Brande Stellings, veep of corporate board services for the nonprofit research firm Catalyst, told the LA Times "I feel like every other month a new study comes out that makes the case for gender diversity in corporate leadership.” Making the case is Lori Heinel, deputy global chief investment officer for State Street, who points to evidence that companies with diverse boards of directors are more successful.

The company Heinel works for is responsible for the “Fearless Girl" installation. It’s odd she doesn’t notice that the symbol her company chose for female power is a tyke. “This is the first time we're really putting a stake in the ground to say this is an issue that's meaningful to us.” Can you really call “Fearless Girl,” who looks like the kid sister to the 14-year-old in Degas statue, “a stake in the ground”?

Back to the drawing board

Another thing: Creating a relationship between “Fearless Girl” and “Raging Bull” conjures up another statue of a female linked to the animal. Called “Lygia and the Bull,” it describes a woman lying face up and strapped to the back of the steer, which fronts the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. In an unexpected way, Lygia may be the better reminder that women are kept out of the boardroom. Moral of this story: if you want to make a case for female power, put one up of voting age.