The discussion surrounding gender-based pay inequality has become more mainstream over the past five years. Most people are becoming increasingly interested and aware of the gender pay gap. The most visible statistic is that on average, women make seventy-nine cents to the white man’s dollar. This figure is even lower for most women of color with black women making sixty-two cents, Hispanic women make 54 cents, and Native American women are making 57 cents to the white man’s dollar. Conversely, Asian women make an average of 90 on the dollar. The pattern continuously shows that, on average, women make 10% to 46% less than the average white male. This information, while distressing, is not new. The issue is that the pay gap exists, and the lack of financial literacy for women feeds it.
The financial literacy gap between men and women and the wage gap both go hand in hand. Financial literacy tells people how to manage their money, when and how to spend it, save it, or invest it. The lack of financial literacy with women opens a multitude of questions such as:
How do we manage with less money?
How do we know what we are getting is fair?
How do women prepare for retirement?
How can women accurately value themselves when they are being paid less?
The lack of financial literacy today, especially as women are fighting for pay equality, is paramount in impeding both future wealth and financial freedom. Women have made drastic financial gains. However, according to Business Insider, the wage gap is not said to close until the year 2059. This means women have almost another three decades of wealth inequality.
To be financially literate still feels like an exclusive boy’s club paired with a cigar in hand. Money talk can already be a taboo topic in polite conversation, but for women, its an even greater challenge. Women are vigorous in their fight for financial freedom but have had decades of obstacles in the way. According to a Forbes article in 2018, parents were more likely to talk about money with their sons than daughters. Additionally, when conducting a financial literacy test, twenty-one percent of men scored high compared to only 12% of women.
These figures are disturbing as it shows that women are being deprived of critical information that will better their lives. The lack of information available and taught to women is not a mere coincidence or a puzzling phenomenon. This is intentional. Historically, men have been the breadwinners. Women could not have their credit cards or have an independent bank account until 1974. Currently, some women have never been in tandem with their partners about their shared finances. Some women leave their taxes and management of their wealth completely in the hands of their husbands.
This also spans generations, with many women letting their fathers do their taxes well into their adult lives. Newsweek states that the average woman loses 407,760 dollars over a forty-year career to that of an average man. These numbers increase exponentially for women of color. Time magazine states that this yields a 946,000-dollar loss for Black women and a staggering 1.1 million dollar loss for Latina women over that same forty-year career period, according to leanin.com. A greater understanding of finances can teach women how to greater close that gap and how to manage that loss to build wealth later in life.
Fortune magazine reveals that Wall Street has never had a female CEO, keeping it an exclusive men’s club in its entirety. Moreover, gender diversity in the actual financial sector is bleak. Management Agency, Oliver Wyman, composed a piece, stating only 20% of members on executive committees and 23% percent of board members in financial services are women. An article featured in The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2018, almost 21% percent of financial advisors were women.
The severe lack of women in the field and educating in the finance world is telling. It is both a product and a cause for women’s lack of fluency in the finance market. For women, finances can feel like a catch-22. The gender wage gap and the lack of resources and positions for women in the financial sector feed a system that actively prevents women from making financial gains. It is a positive feedback loop that continually disadvantages women across the economic and wealth spectrum.
The listed statistics here may seem discouraging, but women are vigilant in the quest for equal economic footing and knowledge. CNBC reported in 2019 that female progress in fortune five hundred companies was record-breaking with thirty-three women holding the title of CEO. This is a step up from the previous year when only twenty-four women were positioned at the top of Fortune five hundred companies.
Women are also graduating with more bachelor’s degrees than men. There are more and more female empowerment groups in STEM, the business world, and finance. At Stanford, they had their fifth Women In Science Conference this past spring. It featured over four hundred outstanding women in STEM fields.
A company called ElleVest is specific in its mission to help women manage their money, teaching them how to invest, and plan for retirement. They have multi-level membership options that are categorized at either one dollar, five dollars, or nine dollars per month. Memberships provide a range of resources like coaching, individualized plans, and analysis, and opportunities to learn with articles, videos, and feedback from their team.
Another company, Clever Girl Finance, offers free books, courses, meetings with their staff, and blog access. Their company is founded by a woman and for women. They tout themselves as the most respected female-centered financial resource in the U.S. Women continue to make strides for financial independence and financial freedom.
With a greater interest in women for teaching, advising, and advocating, finances will become an equal playing field. So ladies, its time to make some money moves.