By Craig Erwin, Ph.D.
Why do men tend to be more financially literate than women?
I have been teaching since 1997. My students soon learn that I am avid investor. Occasionally a student will approach me after class to ask my opinion on a particular investment or to discuss investing. Some even tell me about their investment or retirement accounts. But these students always seem to be male. Why is that? Is it because I am a male? Possibly. I suspect that parents are more likely to pass on their knowledge of finance and investing to male offspring. It is not uncommon for male students to share with me what they have learned about investing from their fathers. Are daughters often left out of the loop? If so, is it intentional or accidental? Do parents believe it’s not as important for daughters to learn about money? Are daughters less interested than sons? Regardless of why it happens, the effects are the same. Failing to learn how to manage money puts women at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives. And the deck is already stacked against them in numerous ways (e.g., they earn less than men on average, they are less likely than men to work fulltime or to receive employee benefits). Research has shown that women face numerous economic disadvantages. In her book “Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth And What Can Be Done About It”, Dr. Mariko Chang, who has spent over two decades researching wealth and inequality, identifies ways in which women are disadvantaged and how it hurts their ability to accumulate wealth. To learn more about Dr. Chang and her work, visit mariko-chang.com.
Do I believe that women should be pushed into careers in the fields of finance and accounting even if their passions lie elsewhere? No! But I do believe it’s as important for women as men to become financially literate. Actually, it’s more important because of the numerous disadvantages women face. By learning a few, simple things about money management and wealth accumulation, women stand a much better chance of retiring comfortably, when they want. But before women can invest successfully and accumulate wealth, they must become motivated enough to learn investing basics and to start investing. So, again I pose the question: Why don’t female students ask me about investing or tell me what they invest in? I am still waiting for the first one.
Are you financially literate? Do you feel confident managing your finances? Are you concerned that you may not be saving enough for retirement?
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