In light of the upcoming International Women’s Day on March 8, I’ve been thinking around the topic of gender inequality in finance. How far we’ve come as a society, and how much more work remain. When I started my financial coaching business, I intentionally decided to focus on women because I felt that systematically women are less supported in the areas of finance. So, this topic is dear to my heart.
Gender inequalities spread far and wide, from wage gaps, career opportunities, to housing and medical decisions, the list goes on. As an individual, I realize I can’t help solve all of the problems, but I can focus on things that are within the realm of my work. For some people, they are focused on pushing for policy changes at the macro level, and for me, I’m committed to helping at the individual level. Here are 3 ways where we as women, individually, can help change the trajectory to bring more balance in the world of finance:
- Be a role model for your daughter(s). For true equality to exists, we first have to FEEL equal and that comes from our upbringing. In a household where mom means household chores, and dad represents the person who pays the bills, without any explicit explanation, different identities are cemented at an early age for boys and girls – “money is a man’s job”. This psyche gets carried into adulthood, and the discrepancy between the two genders perpetuates the spread in how men and women handle pay at work or fees charged for their services. One way to stop this cycle is to help both your sons and daughters cultivate respect for money early on. Try start having conversations about family finances in front of the kids. It can be a discussion about family budget, or estimating and planning a family vacation. The key is to exhibit a partnering relationship in handling the family finance and instill the concept that managing money is everyone’s job.
- Be intentional in giving your boys and girls equal financial education. While parents may not consciously think that they will give more financial education to their boys than girls, what I see is I typically get more boy enrollments in financial literacy classes than girls. Interesting, isn’t it? I’m guessing in most cases, parents treat these extracurricular classes as optional, like a hobby, so they let the kids choose. Personally, I feel that if you are not living in a school district where schools are offering mandatory financial literacy classes, then parents need to make this a priority and a requirement for their kids. Why? Because true equality means you are equally confident (through self identity) and competent (through your skills). Through early financial literacy exposure, kids build up the competence and become skillful around money by the time they leave home.
- Embrace numbers! A good percentage of women do not like to look at numbers, be it their bank balances or statistical data (the good news is the trend is changing). There is so much to be said about making decisions from the heart than just the head, what’s even better is when we can augment that with concrete supportive data to substantiate our stance, when necessary. Let’s make talking numbers sexy! Here’s a little challenge to help you get used to talking numbers. Invite a few of your closest girlfriends, go out for a drink. Set the intention for the gathering to be about numbers! It can be numbers in any parts of your life, maybe it’s the numbers around budgeting, or your investment performances or goals, or numbers related to your health goals. The more we become savvy and comfortable in talking numbers, the more likely we will be heard!
If you like the idea of my challenge, but feel intimidated about organizing one, invite me! If you are local to the Bay Area, we can meet up in person. Otherwise, we can grab a virtual drink in our jammies!
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