Of the two speeches Sheila Bair made Monday the one at the Economic Club of New York made headlines. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman argued her agency should get the job of prison warden for systematically important goliaths after they run into trouble.

But in her other speech, she spoke of more personal things.

American Banker

It may have gotten far less attention from the press, but she kept 650 women in a ballroom of the Grand Hyatt riveted.

Appearing at the Financial Women´s Association dinner - on the 25th anniversary of their "Women of the Year" awards - Bair said the adage asserting that "behind every successful man is a woman" no longer applies.

"I think, we´re not standing behind the men anymore," she said.

Bair talked about how few female mentors existed when she graduated from law school three decades ago. But she said she was fortunate to work for a "progressive" man - former Sen. Bob Dole.

"But there was one time he didn´t stand behind me," she said.

It was in the `90s, after encouraging her to run for an open congressional seat in their home state of Kansas. Dole declined to endorse her in the primary because six Republicans were running.

"You got me out here and you´re not going to endorse me?" she recalled telling the senator.

But then she turned his decision to her advantage.

As she went door-to-door handing out brochures, Bair told voters she didn´t want Dole´s endorsement and didn´t want to ride his coattails.She ended up losing by 760 votes, a margin of less than 1%. "It was a painful loss," she said.

And then came the kicker from Dole. "He said, he thought I lost because I was a woman and because I wasn´t married," she said, smiling. "He was probably right," she added, describing the district as very conservative.

Bair attended the dinner to accept a "Woman of the Year" award for her impact on the public sector. Amy Woods Brinkley, global risk executive at Bank of America Corp., also accepted a "Woman of the Year" award for her impact on the private sector.