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There has been significant progress made in recent decades for female financial empowerment by decreasing the barriers for securing loans, investments, and financial planning. However, the effects of 2020 signified the need for more support, continued education, and further action to dissolve discrimination within the economy.
In this post we explore the current state of women and money, the history that’s brought us significant progress, and how we can empower a future of financially independent women.
Women make $0.82 to every dollar a man makes.
Boys make double the allowance that girls make for doing weekly chores.
Women must work 44 more days annually to make as much as their male counterparts.
Only 6 of 111 CEOs are women at the largest public American financial institutions.
The correlation between health and money is a ripple effect. Typically, the existence of one perpetuates the existence of the other, no matter which one occurs first.
When women forego a role in long-term financial planning, their physical and mental health can deteriorate. Financial stress is directly related to problems like high blood pressure, depression, and cardiovascular health issues.
How much does a woman make to a man's dollar? Women make $0.82 to each dollar men make.
Women’s economic empowerment is not only beneficial on an individual level, but it also has the potential to impact children, families, and entire communities.
Let’s take a look at the history of women and money, the existing discrimination, and how to develop a future of female financial empowerment.
Women and Money Wealth Stats
While the gap in financial literacy creates a disadvantage in day-to-day money management for women, especially so for minority women, we are beginning to see a shift in rising wealth for the demographic. Between 2014 and 2019 there was a 21 percent increase in women-owned businesses, generating $1.9 trillion in revenue, according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
So what’s the economic impact of women and money today, and where is there room for continued growth?
Incarcerated females have the highest rates of poverty compared to other incarcerated individuals and the general public. (Financial Literacy Statistics)
30 percent of single mothers are living below the poverty line, compared to 17 percent of single fathers. (Pew Research Center)
Financially Wise Women
Up until the 1960s, American women weren’t allowed to hold a bank account without their husband’s permission, which paints a picture of the historic disadvantage when it comes to women and money.
Below we’ll explore some of the female shakers and movers that have paved the way for financial equality.
Henrietta Green, dubbed the “Witch of Wall Street,” is considered one of the most successful investors in history and was named “the richest women in America” during the Gilded Age. (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
Madam C.J. Walker was a self-made entrepreneur and the first Black woman millionaire. (HISTORY)
The Woodhull sisters, Victoria and Tennessee, were the first female stock brokers on Wall street. (HISTORY)
Katherine Graham was the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, making history at The Washington Post in 1972. (Britannica)
In 2017, Adena Friedman was the first woman to become president and CEO of Nasdaq. (Wall Street Journal)
Whitney Wolfe Herd, age 31, was the youngest female CEO to IPO a company in 2020. (Business Insider)
Women Making Money
When comparing the salaries for all men and women, a woman makes $0.82 to every dollar a man makes. When comparing the salaries for men and women in the same jobs with the same qualifications, women make $0.98 to every dollar a man makes.
On average, women reach their peak earning potential at the age of 44 with a median salary of $66,700. (Payscale)
Progress within the gender leadership gap has been uneven. The racial and ethnic discrimination within the women’s leadership gap is especially apparent, considering 20.3 percent of women in America are people of color.
Globally, women make up 20 percent of executive-level roles in major financial services firms. (Catalyst)
In 2020, there was a 27 percent decrease in venture funding for female-founded startups around the world. (Crunchbase)
Women were measured to be 84 percent more effective in core leadership competencies, but only 4.9 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. (Harvard Business Review)
105 of 111 CEOs at the largest public American financial institutions are men. (Deloitte)
Financial Empowerment for Women
While issues like discrimination persist within a deeper systematic problem for equality between women and money, there are additional factors that can improve upon women’s economic status.
Female financial empowerment suggests taking control of one's own finances and creating opportunities for women in the community, at home, and in the workplace to achieve financial independence to reach their full potential.
Financial Empowerment in the Classroom
Young women spend a significant amount of time learning inside the classroom. Create an environment where women feel empowered to fail and learn, be themselves, and understand different duties within the economy.
Talk About Options: Have honest conversations about the uncertainties and pressure women face when making career decisions — like choosing a career to budget for a baby — and inspire them to choose whichever path they’re most inspired by. Teach students that traditional careers and higher education aren’t the only options. Invite classroom mothers of different demographics to come in and speak about different vocations and lifestyle choices that are available to them, like careers without degrees. Create real-life opportunities to build relevant work experience while in school.
Share Female Role Models: Expose young women to the accomplishments of successful females in history and everyday life — in both public and political arenas — to encourage them to hold high ambitions. Make sure that women are represented in presentations, resources, and lessons.
Inspire Lifelong Learning: Empower students to take charge of their financial lives in and out of school. Explain how rapidly the economy evolves, and how lifelong learning is necessary for financial literacy and healthy money management. Set outside learning goals and have students take charge of the topics they want to learn about.
Cultivate Confidence: Cultivate an environment where young women aren’t afraid to fail and learn. Creating a supportive community to build up self-esteem forms confidence. Have students reflect on failures and write different ways they can be successful the next time. Confidence creates resilience to tackle more complex topics later in life.
The gender pay gap is often focused on organizational issues. While we certainly need to address biases within an organization, empowerment can go beyond changing policies and begin at an individual level.
Promote Education: Women are underrepresented at almost every level in professional organizations. Supply training and professional development opportunities for women that encourage furthering a career within an industry.
Exercise Gender Equality: Create a workplace environment that promotes gender equality from business development down to supply chain management. Create performance indicators that are reviewed and reported on in regular increments.
Practice Salary Transparency: The wage gap is one of the largest disparities for women’s economic growth. While pay transparency will look different based on the company culture, salary secrecy reinforces discrimination. Organizations should audit both pay, and promotion processes to identify existing biases.
Investing in financial empowerment for women creates a healthy investment in entire communities from our children to our businesses. When women have access to financial tools we can promote healthy families that can further childhood development. These improvements can create a snowball effect for access to education and building community leaders.
Be a Voice: Speak out about your personal endeavors including fallbacks and accomplishments to inspire others who may have similar stories.
Create Opportunity: Teach life skills that can help disadvantaged women or youth become independent. Offer employment, volunteer, or mentorship opportunities to support advancement within your community and schools.
Donate to the Cause: If you don’t have your own platform, consider donating your time or funds to organizations who help empower females to become independent, join the workforce, or reduce negative outcomes for at-risk children and teens.
Make money a part of regular conversation with your children. Familiarize them with values, goals, and hardships. By starting open conversations with youth women, they’ll feel more comfortable to plan and track their own financial outcomes.
Encourage Support: Encourage young women to support other women by sharing financial knowledge — whether friends, peers, or mentors.
Have Open Conversations: Talk about money openly including your values, goals, and hardships. By cultivating open conversations, you’ll empower women to build confidence and seek financial literacy regardless of background and upbringing.
Explain the Why: Explain how money decisions are made within the family. Doing so shows that decision-making is an equal endeavor. Additionally, you encourage empathy and understanding for how decisions are made and why certain compromises are needed to maintain a household.
Economic empowerment for women has the potential to change the state of the global economy. Create a strategy to start an emergency fund, pay off loans, and build investments to improve your financial future. Whether you’re just beginning your financial journey or are a seasoned financeur, share your findings with others to empower a better future for women and money.
Chang is an avid writer, among other things, at Possible. He grew up loving reading and writing, creating his own poems and even a book he's now hidden in an old closet, unpublished. His financial experience at a large bank along with his passion for technology to help underserved communities inspires him to write for Possible.