Americans aren’t unanimous on much, but they overwhelmingly agree on one thing — money is the most stressful thing in their lives. There is a more complex narrative hiding under this stat, specifically when it comes to women.
A study conducted in 2019 found that 65% of women report money as their number one stressor, in comparison to just 52% of men. The numbers are high for both, but it’s telling that a larger segment of women sees money in such a negative light.
This isn’t an imagined stressor, either. The gender pay gap, the wealth gap, and things like the pink tax (the $1,300 upcharge women pay per year for female branded products) have made it harder for women to become as financially stable as their male counterparts.
The numbers are even more jarring for women of color:
- White women earn on average 79 cents to a white man’s dollar
- Asian women earn on average 90 cents to a white man’s dollar
- Black women earn on average 62 cents to a white man’s dollar
- Alaskan and American Native women earn 57 cents to a white man’s dollar
- Hispanic and Latino women earn on average 54 cents to a white man’s dollar
Wages only tell a part of the story. Women overall are less likely to invest, and when they do, they invest less but live seven years longer on average. It’s estimated that women will lose almost a million dollars over their working lifetimes because of this gap.
Then, of course, add in a global pandemic that has pushed women even further to the financial fringes.
The majority of people laid off during the pandemic were women, and they’re not getting their jobs back at the rates men are. Additionally, industries hit hardest by the pandemic, tourism and hospitality, are the biggest employers of women — particularly women of color. Then there’s the factor of schools closing and women leaving their jobs to take care of young children at home. The list goes on and on.
These are only facts and figures on paper. The reality and the implications of these gaps have tangible effects on how women live, work, and retire.
That’s why Financial Feminism isn’t a girl boss mantra — it’s an inclusive and powerful promise to change the norms and build a brighter future for all women.
When women have more money, they have more agency. They can leave toxic or abusive partnerships or decide to have children without worrying about going bankrupt. They can pay for college without going into debt (women currently own two-thirds of the total student loan debt) or fund college for future generations.
When women have financial agency, they have choice — and choice is an absolute game-changer for mental health.
So how do we get more money into the hands of women and create a more equal and just society?
Support Your Female Colleagues
A straightforward way to combat inequalities is to find ways to support women in the workplace. Supporting women in the workplace looks like discussing your salary and making sure the women you work with are being paid equally to their male counterparts.
Working mothers face incredibly challenging circumstances coming back into the workforce. A great way to lift their burdens is by implementing working-parent-friendly benefits like paid maternity and paternity leave, having space for lactating women to pump, and better support for women facing postpartum depression.
Educate Your Children About Money
Systemic change begins at the ground level — and that means teaching your children the realities of what it means to be them in the current system and the ways they can change it.
This also means teaching your boys AND girls about finances. With investing, time is money, so it’s crucial to build your financial foundation as soon as possible.
Read More: How to Talk to Kids About Finances
Vote for Systemic Change
A system this big doesn’t change through individual habits alone. We can advocate for better workplace policies at our companies, but real change happens when laws are changed.
Currently, the federal maternity leave laws for full-time employees guarantee 12 weeks of unpaid leave — which many working mothers cannot afford to take. This forces mothers back into the workplace often while their bodies have not recovered from childbirth.
Next Steps for You
When you’re struggling with finances, it can feel like everything around you is crumbling — and that weight is disproportionately on women and especially on women of color who are already shouldering so much burden. With small changes in our everyday lives and businesses and more significant changes on a national level, we can distribute this weight and help women breathe easier.
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