More Women Are Flexing Their Financial Muscles Now
June 24, 2021

More Women Are Flexing Their Financial Muscles Now

If I looked like Brad Pitt, it might make more sense.  But I don’t.  Brad is seven years older than me.  But he looks a lot younger.  The guy has great hair.  I’m bald.  He barely has a wrinkle, and I’m reminded of all the sunscreen I didn’t wear.  Yet, when I give financial talks, whether in person or on Zoom, I’m a big draw for women.

Before tossing me aside as an egotistical chump, let me clear one thing up.  Women aren’t attracted to me.  Increasingly, they’re attracted to the topic.

I’ve been a financial speaker for several years.  Before the pandemic, I typically delivered between 40 and 90 talks every year.  I’ve spoken in more than 30 different countries.  And there’s a trend taking shape.   Based on attendance, women are increasingly keen to learn about money and investing.  In fact, I believe they’re the fastest growing market for the financial education sector.

I confirmed my observations during the pandemic when I began speaking to large groups on Zoom.  Compared to speaking live, that’s like chewing on a sponge.  I couldn’t see people’s reactions.  I couldn’t look attendees in the eyes and ask specific questions.  But in a quest to personalize my talks, I asked organizers to send me a list of attendees in advance.  This allowed me to use their names during my presentations.  And each time I received one of those lists, I said to my wife, “Hey, check this out.   About 60-70 percent of the attendees are women.” 

In March, I taught an eight-session course on financial literacy for an Inuit community in northern Canada.  More than 80 percent of the attendees were women.  I spoke at universities, businesses and international schools in 2020.  And I can say, with confidence, that this trend is real.  Increasing numbers of women want to know more about money.

That’s important for several reasons.  Women are less financially literate than men, according to a study from George Washington University.  But the study also reveals women know more than they think they do.  During research surveys, women were more likely to respond to financial literacy questions with an “I don’t know,” even when they knew the answer.  After adjusting for their lack of confidence, researchers found the knowledge gap between men and women narrowed, but it didn’t close completely.

Much of this has to do with stereotypes and beliefs.  Women often believe they aren’t as good with money.  This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Those who believe they aren’t good at something become like marathon runners who choose to race in army boots. 

Consider something like mathematics.  Women have long considered themselves inferior to men in math skills.  Research confirms this.  But the performance gap closes when women aren’t reminded of this.  In the research paper beautifully titled, L'eggo My Ego: Reducing the Gender Gap in Math by Unlinking the Self from Performance, women performed better on math tests when they took tests under different identities.  That wasn’t the case with men, who performed the same, regardless of the name on the test.

The gender difference in math tests and financial literacy simply comes down to confidence.  In fact, when women choose to learn about money, they outperform men.  That isn’t based on a single research study.  I described and linked to several studies in my column, Is Your Family’s Best Investment Player Sitting on The Bench?  On average, women who choose to invest their money earn much higher returns than men.

And that’s a good thing because women need to be better investors.  Business Insider reports that, on average, women who work full-time, year-round, earn less money than men with the same workload.  And as those women age, they shouldn’t rely on “their man” to hold the financial reigns.  After all, more women end up alone in their later years. 

That’s because women live longer.  They also tend to marry older men.  These two facts compound the reality that women (more often than men) end up in charge of the finances, whether they’re prepared for it or not.

Fortunately, more women are taking charge of their financial futures.  They’re attending more financial seminars.  There’s also an increasing number of finance books written by women.  To my eye, women are finally taking their rightful place when it comes to money.  Knowledge, after all, is power.  And women are most deserving of it.

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