Women still do not have equal visibility or wealth generation in our society. Women financial literacy is still not very popular.
Wealth=the freedom and power to change the world and have true equality. Women are rising in representation in politics and business but are still lagging in wealth and wealth management. What does that mean? After decades of women’s empowerment, we’re still not playing with the big boys.
It starts with financial literacy, i.e. understanding the who, what, where of finance.
We could go on and on with statistics, like ridiculously low financial literacy rates among women in the U.S. (only 22%!) or that women still only make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men (is our lack of financial knowledge inhibiting our capacity to negotiate salaries?).
However, the numbers speak for themselves: “A BlackRock survey of 4,000 American investors released earlier this year (2015) found that 53 percent of women had started saving for retirement, compared with 65 percent of men. And among those who’d started saving money, women had accumulated less than half the amount men had: $34,900 versus $76,800.”
There are a plethora of reasons for this, but right from the start, single young women are disadvantaged: “In her research, Chang found that single women have only 32 cents of wealth for every dollar owned by single men. ‘From the traditional economic model, single women should look exactly like men,’ Chang said. ‘The fact that is happening is really telling’ “
This could be that we are not being paid the same amount for the same work. A whole lotta &%^# right there, and there are initiatives nationally trying to fix this. However, it could also mean we’re spending more. It could also mean we’re just not investing money we save. Bottom line, women are not gaining in overall assets at the same rate as men.
This isn’t new.
So, let’s unpack it:
Yes, maybe women are more risk adverse with their money as compared to men, i.e. we don’t want to lose our money, so we don’t invest it in riskier investments that could lead to higher returns (or higher losses). Okay, we get that and we don’t think that is necessarily a problem.
However, we think it’s more complex, and among a confluence of gender, socioeconomic and cultural issues, here are some basic ones we think we can overcome.
The language around finances is very masculine.
Wall Street is all about gambling, speculation and making it big. This has historically not been a comfortable place for women, nor have women been incredibly welcomed. Therefore, the vocabulary, the strategies, and the energy around finances have stayed male-dominated (do we need to talk about the insanity of the real estate market crash of 2008/9 brought on by greed?), and have repelled women from pursuing careers in it, let alone learning about it.
Women are not as incentivized to learn about finances.
Let’s be honest, men of a certain economic class have more incentive to be financially stable because financially stable men are more attractive to their counterparts. Nowadays it might be sexier for women to be financially stable too, but it is still not entirely embedded in our society’s psyche. Is it still okay for women not to understand finances because it’s still okay for her to be dependent, if not on her partner, on someone else? We’re not arguing against dependency at points in life, it’s an essential part of our communal human experience (child birth, children, illness, injury, old age). We’re just saying: on female financial literacy, we can do better.
There is a dearth of clear, straightforward and unbiased information about all things financial.
The mix of the aggressive overtones, a lack of clarity, and not trusting sales people, leads some (not all, but some) women to see the financial system and therefore, personal finances, as horrendously scary. It’s better to stick your head in the sand than deal with finances because you can lose money, financial experts talk in circles and make it confusing, and financial sales people all seem to be trying to screw you out of money. Sorry, not sorry for staying this like it is. And forget trying to understand employee benefits or real estate investments. No one ever explains those in real terms.
So, what do we do about it.
First, it starts with a mindset: we refuse to live in fear. We choose to live in the practical, the empowered, and the beautiful. We need money to survive and we need our money to grow if we ever want to retire and/or if we want to have any influence in our society in the future (see this post for that argument). We are intelligent women who can learn anything to which we set our minds.
Second, we need tools. We need personal financial management tools. We need road maps to financial health that are customized to fit our goals and our lifestyle. We need unbiased information that provides us clear, straightforward information about financial products like insurance, employee benefits, real estate and taxes.
That is the Nav.it purpose: To change our mindset and in-power us with tools. It’s designed to support us in reaching our goals, enriching our lives, and building our wealth to increase our power in society to finally be able to make the big decisions.