New York (AFP) - A sculpture of a courageous young girl installed temporarily in New York to champion gender diversity is so popular that thousands of people have signed a petition demanding it remain permanently.
Called "Fearless Girl" and created by US artist Kristen Visbal, the bronze girl stands defiant, hands on hips and chin jutting out, directly challenging the famous "Charging Bull" statue that is a symbol of Wall Street.
It was installed on March 7 by investment company State Street Global Advisors on the eve of International Women's Day to create awareness for the need for greater gender diversity on company boards.
The bronze statue was supposed to stay only a week but the day after its installation, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said it would remain until April 2.
"Our statue has taken her place for all of Wall Street to see -- a place where corporate America cannot help but notice her," wrote Jill Mavro, head of strategic relations for State Street, in a blog.
An online petition set up on change.org calling for the statue's installation to be made permanent has already attracted more than 17,600 supporters.
A spokeswoman for State Street confirmed that the group was in talks with city officials about leaving the statue in place. "We're thrilled with the strong support that the public has shown," she said.
The iconic "Charging Bull" bronze sculpture was installed in December 1989 in the city's Wall Street financial district.
Created by Italian-American sculptor Arturo Di Modica, it is meant to celebrate the can-do spirit of America, which the artist saw as the antidote to the 1987 Wall Street market crash.