We’ve come a long way, ladies.
Yes, men overwhelmingly control Wall Street and the financial firms that hold and invest our money.
They are still, on average, paid more than women doing the same job.
And when you see a commercial about financial advising, it’s often a man giving advice.
But James Brown was right when he sang, “This is a man’s world/ But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing, without a woman or a girl.”
No, this isn’t just a man’s financial world.
Since women generally outlive men, a great deal of wealth is expected to transfer to them, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey. By 2030, American women could be controlling much of the $30 trillion in assets held by baby boomers.
Yet misconceptions still linger about women’s financial acumen, despite increasing numbers of them managing the money in their households because they’re single, divorced or widowed.
So, let me debunk some long-held myths about women and money. For example, women are more likely to be spendthrifts. When will the stereotype of the woman with a shoe-shopping addiction die? Spending is different, of course, but women aren’t more likely to be spending wildly.
A LendingTree analysis of federal data found that single men outspent single women $41,203 to $38,838 per year, on average. The findings, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 consumer expenditure survey, also showed:
• Men spent more on food: $4,816 a year vs. $4,446 for the ladies.
• Men outspent women 2-1 on alcohol, at $542 a year compared with $257.
• Ladies did spend more on clothes: $671 annually for apparel and services, while men spent $398.
• Men outspent women on “other” entertainment, which includes indoor exercise equipment and athletic shoes.
They spent an average of $675 vs. $141 for women.
Here are some other myths to bust.
Women are bad at salary negotiation. Employed men make more than their female counterparts at every wage level, though the pay gap widens at the higher end of the spectrum. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women’s median earnings were 83% of men’s in fulltime wage and salary roles in 2021; that comes to $912 a week compared with $998.
People often attribute the wage gap, in part, to women’s inability to negotiate a higher salary. But being too intimidated to ask for money isn’t just a woman’s thing.
When asked about their most recent hiring, “most U.S. workers who are not selfemployed say they did not ask for higher pay than what was initially offered,” according to a Pew Research Center survey.
In fact, 60% of workers settled for the first offer, Pew found.
Among those who did ask for higher wages, men were only slightly more inclined — 32% compared with 28% . And since women start behind men in the salary department, even if they ask for more money, there’s still a pay gap.
Similar results were found when researchers at the University of Southern California used a virtual agent to test how participants negotiated for a software engineering position.
It turns out that, regardless of gender, 43% of participants took what was offered.
“People aren’t good at negotiating in general,” one of the researchers said in reporting on the study results.
Women are not as good investors as men. Investment is all about risk. And while it’s true that women tend to be more risk-averse than men when investing, that works in their favor.
They lead men — albeit by a small margin — when it comes to investment returns, according to a 2021 Fidelity Investments report.
That’s partly because women don’t trade as often as men.
An analysis of more than 5 million Fidelity Investments accounts from 2011 to 2020 found, on average, that women outperformed their male counterparts by 40 basis points or 0.4% .
Over time, that small difference can add up to big money.
Women are more spooked about the stock market than men. Fifty-one percent of women who invest in stocks say they typically stay the course when the market experiences a dip, compared with 43% of men, according to Fidelity.
By the way, women are increasingly investing in the stock market. The Fidelity study found that 67% of women are now investing outside of their retirement accounts. That’s a significant jump from the 44% Fidelity recorded in 2018.
Women are too emotional to be good money managers.
Slightly more than half of U.S. adults say they stress about money, have worrisome thoughts, lose sleep, or are depressed because of financial worries, according to a 2023 survey by Bankrate. com. That’s up from 42% a year earlier. It makes sense that people would be stressed about money in the pandemic and after inflation reached a 40-year high in 2022 and interest rates on mortgages, auto loans and credit cards soared.
Women worried more than men, Bankrate found. Forty-six percent of women said financial concerns had a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 38% of men.
None of which means you can’t be financially astute.
A Fidelity study found that while stress is the top emotion women feel about money, nearly 90% are taking steps to control their finances. They are adjusting their spending habits, saving more and improving their credit scores.
And when they don’t know what to do, women are more likely to ask for help.
Fidelity has seen a 19% increase in women reaching out for financial guidance since 2019, compared with a 16% increase among men.
I tell women all the time: Don’t underestimate your ability to handle money even though men dominated the currency we use.
Employed men make more than their female counterparts at every wage level, though the pay gap widens at the higher end of the spectrum. ... Women’s median earnings were 83% of men’s in full-time wage and salary roles in 2021.