How sexism leads to financial disparity

How sexism leads to financial disparity

by Verve

How many women have you heard utter the phrase: ‘I’m bad with money’? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. As Australia’s first ever super fund dedicated to building the financial power of women, we say enough is enough. It’s time to dismantle the belief that ‘women are bad with money’, and take a closer look at what is really going on when it comes to the financial inequality of women in this country.

For anyone who’s seen The Big ShortWolf of Wall Street or Capitalism: A Love Story, you’d be forgiven for thinking that some people are indeed ‘bad’ with money, but those people aren’t women. Yet, for some reason, we have had countless conversations since launching Verve, where women have confided in us that they have “no idea about all things financial” or that they’re “terrible with money”.

So how is it that in 2019 so many of us are still convinced that we’re ‘bad’ with money?

We’ll tell you why: sexism. That damn six letter word results in very real, and measurable, financial disparities in this country and every country across the world. Let’s unpack it a little further…

We are more qualified

Australian women are enrolling in tertiary studies at a higher rate (hello, student debt) yet have median undergraduate starting salaries that are 4.8% less than the fellas who sat next to us in the lecture theatre.

We earn less

$25,717 less a year, on average, with the gender pay gap still at a hefty 14.1%. And, it’s worse for women of colour and Indigenous women, who earn an average of $349 less a week than non-Indigenous men — that’s nearly 20K a year.

We pay more for things

The ‘pink tax’ means that, over our lifetimes, women are paying thousands of dollars more than men for similar products from hair cuts to car insurance.

We are underemployed or underpaid

Women from migrant backgrounds are 7% less likely to be employed than women born in Australia and women of colour are more likely to be in low-paying occupations.

We care more

Over 40% of us are currently caring for someone unpaid (a child, a spouse, a partner, or another family member), not to mention the hours of unpaid housework we do every week.

We are taught less about money

Throughout their lives, women and girls receive less financial education and resources, which leads to a major confidence and financial literacy gap.

We manage budgets more

Women (in hetero couples) are more likely to manage the household budget, make purchasing decisions, and be more aware of their overall financial position than their (male) partners. But sure, tell us again how women are ‘bad with money’.

Women make better investors

That’s right, we often have less confidence when it comes to longer term investing, but women tend to be better at it… this aptly named study outlines the reasons why: “Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment,” 

And the outcome of all of this?

We retire with less

Our average superannuation balances nearing retirement age (55-64) are 37% lower than men’s.

As you can see, women are more educated, being paid less money, have higher expenses, and are living longer. We are systematically underpaid and undervalued from the moment we receive pocket money until we retire, and beyond. The odds are stacked against us, and it’s far more than us simply being ‘bad with money’.

So, what are we going to do about it?

There are plenty of things that we can do as individuals, as a society, and as a Verve community to fight for women’s financial equality and wellbeing. For starters, you can banish the phrase: ‘I’m bad with money’ from your lexicon. You can build your financial literacy and confidence through an online course (such as Verve Academy’s Money & Mindset program), and you can get on top of your super and track how you’re going for retirement with these Money Smart calculators and resources like this from ASIC’s Money Smart website.

As a society, we need to be advocating for pay equity, recognition, and rights for all women*, even if their situation is different from our own. That means demanding universal child care for single mothers. Demanding flexibility in your workplace. Demanding equal pay for women of colour and Indigenous women. Demanding employment rights and access to opportunities for women with disabilities. Fighting for superannuation for women on low incomes. Demanding additional support for non-binary folx or women in queer relationships, where the super gap is compounded.

As poet and feminist Audre Lorde says, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

And, lastly, as part of the growing Verve community – we need to continue flexing our super power. Did you know that Australian women will have $1.5 trillion in super by 2025? We need to use it to invest in the kind of world we want to live in. The kind of world that pays women what they’re worth. The kind that advocates for all women. The kind that does not invest in armaments, fossil fuels, live animal exports and offshore detention.

Let’s be the  generation of women who believe that we are ‘good’ with money; who don’t internalise the sexist stereotypes that money is not ‘women’s business’; and who are confident in flexing their money muscles.

In other words… let’s be B.A.D – Badasses at Amassing Dollars 😉

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