I was delighted to be asked to deliver a speech in aid of International Women’s Day two weeks ago alongside the wonderful Nikki Ramskill at The Female Money Doctor.
We were tasked with discussing women and money with the them of this year #pressforprogress. We instantly came up with the “4Cs” – 4 areas that we felt were important to women and money:
Nikki beautifully presented her 2 C’s – consumerism and carers. You can read Nikki’s blog here.
So, forget the gender gap, our biggest challenge is Confidence and what I have coined, The Money Confidence Gap.
Confidence – The Money Confidence Gap
For many women, just the conversation of money is scary. Our relationship with money is shrouded by negative messages. This comes from all over – the media, personal experiences, our communities, religion, family messages and our own personalities.
An astonishing 4 out of 5 women say that they avoid talking about money because they feel it is too uncomfortable. Exploring your relationship with money is key to improving how you think and feel about money as I wrote about in my previous blog.
Words I have heard that women describe money as are:
- Money is evil
- Money is dirty
- Money is complicated
- Money is overwhelming
- Money is worrying
- Money is hard work
Why do we have so many negative associations with money? Personal experiences and the media have a lot to do with this.
Lets look at personal experiences.
Women may experience traumatic times in their lives. This could be a bad relationships, the death of a family member or spouse, a change to their health or redundancy at work. These all impact on the relationship we have with money. Some of this may also stem from childhood. Ask yourself What was your earliest memory of money?
One of my earliest memories was when my Dad used to take us to the bank each month and out £30 per month into our accounts. I handed over my bank book to the cashier for them to print the up to date balance. I still remember the sound of the printer now. I took my little Nationwide saver book into the bank one afternoon only to be horrified that the balance was £0. My Dad had drawn my money out. I believe that this happened after my parents divorced and my Dad needed money to set up again. I don’t remember thinking my Dad was a terrible person for doing this, and I still don’t! But subsequently as I grew up, that early memory of money taught me that if I did not spend my money quickly, somebody else would.
Of the messages that you heard, what would you say had the greatest impact on you?
The media would have us believe that women are bad with money. The media talks to us as though we are spenders and bad with managing money. Men in comparison are taught how to lead and how to earn more.
There is a huge gender gap issue here and something that the founder of Starling bank Anne Boden talks passionately about in her founding mission statement and campaign #makemoneyequal. According to their research, which assessed 300 articles directed to women about money, they found that:
65% of articles define women as excessive spenders advising them to limit shopping
90% tell women to cut back on outgoings and seek out vouchers and bargains
71% suggest women bargain hunt to save money
70% of articles aimed at men say money makes you more of a man with greater financial success
50% of articles towards men aimed at using fear as a technique to trigger feelings
Money should be genderless and we need to challenge these messages. We can start by challenging our own actions and behaviours with money.
Taking control of our finances is one way we can influence this gender gap. We are starting to see a positive shift in control. According to the Institute for Public policy research, the proportion of women who carry the main financial responsibility for their family has increased by 50% since 1996. Historically this wasn’t the case.
What I have seen is that for many women, they are starting to take more control over the financial purse but they are still not fully equipped to deal with the next steps such as setting up pensions or investments. This is largely down to confidence and the availability of financial literacy for women.
We are good with money, but we are more risk averse than men and chronically under invest. This I believe, to be largely due to poor access to information to help women make decisions about how to invest. We are also more likely to outlive our savings and therefore it is imperative that we educate ourselves – perhaps this explains why we worry about money so much!
Together we can #pressforprogress
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