MyWallSt is celebrating International Women's Day by highlighting how women can take control of their financial future through investing!
We've all heard about the gender pay gap, but do you know about the gender wealth divide? Arguably more important, the wealth gap shows us not just how much a person earns but how much wealth they own.
Recent studies have found that women in the U.S. who work full-time outside of the home earn around $0.82 for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. However, females only own about $0.32 for every man's dollar. Modern societies are making strides, albeit slowly, in closing the pay gap, but the wealth gap remains the largest hurdle for women in owning their financial futures.
As we know, societal systems can take a long time to change but there's one thing that women can do now to take control of their finances: invest.
There are plenty of women in the world that do invest, but females still only make up on average 20% of investors globally. Only 26% of U.S women invest in the stock market.
A major contributing factor that causes reluctance in women investing is that they do not have as much money as their male counterparts, for the following reasons:
The pay gap: As we've mentioned, women in the U.S. are paid $0.82 for every dollar paid to men, contributing to an annual gender wage gap of $10,157. Therefore, they are encouraged to be more careful with their cash. Women also tend to take longer career breaks to have children and are more likely to give up work to care for older relatives, with single mother households having the lowest levels of assets. Even childless women still earn 14% less than their male counterparts. Surprisingly, the gender wage gap is the widest in the highest-paying fields, with men earning between 17% to 43% more. This inequality leaves women with less money to pay back loans meaning they end up paying higher interest rates. Speaking of debt...
Females have more debt: On top of having less money, we also owe more. Females make up 57% of all higher education students, but they hold two-thirds of the debt throughout every educational level. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, this is largely because females may need one more degree than men to close the earnings gap.
Higher cost of living: The stereotype is that women like to shop, right? Well, in reality, women are put under massive societal pressure to spend more on grooming, fashion, and cosmetics. What's more, we are also subject to paying the 'pink tax' -- the extra amount that women pay for everyday products like razors, shampoo, haircuts, clothes, dry cleaning, and many more items that are priced higher simply because they are marketed towards females. Currently, there is no law that prohibits companies from charging more for identical items based on gender. According to a campaign called 'axthepinktax', a woman in her 60s will have spent nearly $82,000 extra compared to her males counterparts fees related to pink tax.
Lack of confidence and investment knowledge: Not only is the marketing, images, and vocabulary used in the investing world geared towards men, but many women also find the industry intimidating. Studies have shown that only 52% of women say they feel confident managing their investments, compared to 68% of men. There are also less female investors, entrepreneurs, and hedge fund managers for younger girls to learn from and look up to, which further discourages more women to become involved in the industry.
More risk-conscious: Women's attitude towards risk actually makes them great long-term investors, but unfortunately, it also stops many females from beginning in the first place. Men suffer with overconfidence which can be their pitfall when investing. This attitude, or illusory superiority bias if you want to be clinical, is a condition of cognitive bias which occurs when an individual overestimates their own abilities. Basically, men are more likely to exacerbate confidence when buying assets and women tend to underestimate their abilities in handling their finances. Therefore, women should learn how to leverage their strength in risk assessment when buying stocks.
When women do invest, research has shown women prefer investing in real estate and men like buying stocks. Why? Because property is seen as a much more traditional form of investment and stocks are seen as risky. What more women need to understand is that stocks can offer safe, passive forms of income that can generate wealth with much less effort than buying real estate. The added bonus is that you don't need as much cash to start investing, unlike a hefty property deposit, you can begin with as little as $10.
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