Earlier this month while scrolling through NPR, I came across an article reporting that women are currently experiencing more economic gains than men. Of course this piqued my interest, so I checked out the study and its findings. Jonathan Vespa’s April 2017 report on, “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood,” reveals A LOT. Mostly though, it discusses how indicators of adulthood have shifted or completely changed in the past 50 years. I read through the report and focused on the results surrounding female economic gains because, as we know, financial literacy among women is lacking.
Here are my key takeaways from the study:
Yes! Women are (for real!) experiencing more economic gains than men. When it comes to young women between the ages of 18 to 34, the number of young women employed has gone up from half to two-thirds. When it comes to men, employment numbers have not changed significantly. The number of young women reporting a salary of at least $60,000 has increased by 11 percent since 1975 (whoop, whoop!).
Although this sounds great for women, it’s important to take a closer look at the study to understand the underlying reason for the (reported) salary shift. One reason for this salary shift is that societal norms around “adulthood” have changed – therefore the data is somewhat skewed. For example, it is more acceptable to start a family now in your 30s rather than your 20s. This societal shift creates space for women to seek higher education and build careers so our earning potential over time is improved – which is what is reflected in the data – but overall our salaries still lag behind men. It is important to understand how this societal shift can benefit women and how we can use this information to improve our future earning potential. If we understand the data from reports like this we will be inpowered to negotiate fair and equitable salaries for ourselves.
While economic gains for women are something to celebrate, it is important to view this study’s findings with a critical eye and realize that another big reason for these gains is the low bar that has been set for women’s salaries. A seven percent increase in a salary of $60,000 or more is possible because women’s earnings have lagged behind men’s salaries from the beginning and the wage disparity continues today. This is a problem! Women still do not earn equal pay to men, but we our finding our voice and society is beginning to recognize that equal pay for equal work will be demanded as more and more women become indispensable members of the workforce.
The last major concern running through my head as I read this report was the stats on female financial literacy. It’s encouraging that women’s business success and financial wealth are becoming more commonplace. (It took us awhile, but thank goodness we’re on the upward trajectory!). However, we also know that young women are the least educated when it comes to financial literacy. So how are we preparing young women to manage these economic gains? Are there support systems in place to allow women to experience sustainable economic progression or to grow their wealth once they’ve achieved a decent salary? When I looked around I didn’t see a ton. Although young women are more college educated than men and are now also reporting salary increases, we are not providing them with the financial literacy they need to keep up.
And this is where Nav.it comes into play! We are a financial support system that aims to inpower and educate women in their financial ABC’s. This is our time! Positive changes are occurring and women are starting to take advantage of the financial information and services that are available. . Knowing and understanding the factors behind these census results from studies like this one allows for us to harness the tools to begin to work towards actionable and intentional change. This report is why we need to seek out financial literacy even more. We have more buying power than ever before, and the market is paying attention. Our economic decisions are now heard and we need to use that power to create a society that reflects our values of an equitable and inclusive future. We can nav.t our way into financial literacy for all women.
Image credit: Mirjana Jesic