When you hear the term “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” a multitude of questions and personal experiences probably run through your head. In a recent survey done by Laurel Road, the idea that men and women come from two different planets takes another step toward certainty – at least when it comes to the way they think about money.
Where Focus Goes, Energy Flows
It was found that the millennials surveyed did not take advantage of personal finance resources however for women, this was more prevalent. The findings also indicated that millennial men put more emphasis on financial education before graduating college, when compared to women. They were also 88% more likely than women to take personal or business finance classes while in college – compared to only 54% of women.
Even the college major each gender typically chooses widens the gap of financial success between them. In the survey, 94% millennial men were more likely to choose a major based on their earning potential. On the other hand, 79% of women were more likely to choose a career path focused on their passions or things that interested them.
According to Forbes, each gender thinks differently about money, too. For women, money is more about a lifestyle; whereas for men, they see money as a competition.
The Consequences for Women
Women’s financial literacy earlier on, as compared to men, tells us that gender inequality has another source – education around personal finance. Also, the gender gap starts before women join the workforce. For example, our survey showed that millennial women were 35% more likely than their male peers to not have a clear understanding of their financing options when applying to college – ultimately having a trickle-down effect-post graduation.
Not only that, when it comes to women and household finances, most married women don’t have a strong understanding of what income is coming in and going out of the household, according to Forbes.
When you take in these facts, it’s easy to see why women have significantly more student debt and financial stress than men do. There are currently 44 million people in the United States who have about 1.3 trillion dollars in student debt and women currently hold nearly two-thirds of that debt.
Influence of Traditional Gender Mindsets
Though there has been some shift in what “traditional” gender roles look like, there is still much progress to be made to close the gender gap including how we think of managing our finances. According to Global News, most men still feel a responsibility to be the “provider”, so when it comes to finances, building and maintaining wealth is at top-of-mind earlier on in life.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on things such as buying a house or taking care of their children’s tuition. For example, even placing money in a retirement account can be less common for women. Though women live two years longer than men, on average, men contribute more to their retirement plans.
And Then There’s the Pay Gap
The pay gap between millennial men and women is reported to be around $10,000 per year and that isn’t helping in the long run in closing the gap. Those numbers can contribute significantly to a woman’s ability to repay her student loans in a timely matter, and essentially adds to her financial stress. It also affects a woman’s ability to accumulate wealth and pay down debt – further threatening her financial security.
Both women and men can be great negotiators, but women are less likely to negotiate a higher salary than men are. And when it comes to interning, 24% of women complete unpaid internships, compared to just 12% of men. This is evidence that the average woman’s way of handling salary negotiation is different than men.
So how do women reconcile these issues? Just like many other challenges in our society, education is the key. Ultimately, to tackle this problem head-on, we must ensure there’s a focus on financial education and resources early on to help improve the financial literacy of women in future generations.
Here are some ways women can better educate themselves on finances:
- Take a personal finance classes while still attending college
- Meet with a financial advisor to provide guidance – even if you think it is too early to do this step
- Take advantage of online resources for budgeting and saving
- Be consistent about contributing to your 401k plan