Research has been ongoing for decades to try and put some hard statistics behind gender equality in the workplace, but it’s a fact. Gender inequalities exist and women are paying the price, especially with their finances.
A study based in Canada shows that out of 5,200 women, they actually make 35% percent less than men. The research also states that 52% of these women admit to experiencing “extreme emotional stress” and 59% feel unsatisfied with their financial situation. So, women are paid less, worry more for their financial health and are putting retirement at the lower end of the list of savings priorities. Frustrating, right? But is it a matter of financial confidence and collective memory?
“Over generations, women have been conditioned to believe that they aren’t good with money. Many women still hold attitudes that get in the way of them taking control of their finances – from thinking it doesn’t matter, to finding it stressful, uncomfortable or boring,” – Manuela Andrysik
Sure, women have traditionally held the torch to care and tend to the soul of the home and all its moving parts, but today, it goes beyond housework. Women are now feeling significant pressure to build successful careers, provide care for their children (or perhaps their aging parents), and manage their finances in a way that puts them and their families ahead for the future.
The Wage Gap
The amount of financial stress women are facing is more than likely a direct impact of the gender wage gap. A 2011 study proved that Canadian women earned 66.7 cents for every dollar their male counterparts’ earned. That’s comparing annual earnings for each gender for both full-time and part-time workers. That wage gap appears for full-time, part-time and hourly wage scenarios.
You might be questioning the validity of some of these statistics today. Perhaps you’re thinking this data is a result of earlier frameworks or earlier times. Not quite. Today, we’re seeing an increase in more millennial women in the workforce.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that “although 62% of university undergraduate students in Canada are women, they don’t necessarily end up getting paid better once they are in the workforce. This report also states that in 2008, female university graduates earned $62,800 annually, while men earned $91,800.16.
The downstream impact of this inequality is endless, but what we also found is a direct correlation between the wage gap and the battle against debt for women.
The Debt Gap
Women are faced with increased financial worry when it comes to debt. Take education for example. The cost of tuition is not gendered and still, women are responsible to pay down their student loan. Sounds fair, right? Here’s the catch. By making less upon graduation, the gender wage gap makes it more difficult for women to pay down their debts. The fact that they care about it is causing a lot of hardship too.
In 2016, Time.com reported learnings that “women who graduated during the 2007-8 school year had paid off about 33% of their student debt between 2009 and 2012, according to a recent study from the American Association of University Women. That’s significantly less than the average for men, who had settled an average 44% of their loan payments during that time. What’s more, the data showed that 53% of women—compared to 39% of men—are contributing more money to their student loan payments that they can reasonably afford.”
So, what does this mean for investing?
The Investment Gap
With women earning less than men and facing the same costs as men, it means that there’s less of a chance for women to prioritize retirement. That’s a pretty stressful thought, especially considering women have historically been living longer than their male counterparts.
The report from The Canadian Women’s Foundation also found that “Lower earning power means women are less able to save for their retirement and more likely to fall into poverty in their senior years; in fact, women 65 or over are more likely than their male counterparts to live on a low income.” When women work outside the home and also do most of the domestic work, their long-term health suffers. According to Statistics Canada, women at every age are more likely than men to describe their days as “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful.
What Can You do to Change the Financial Gaps for Women?
It’s simple (and you can practice this regardless of your gender). Help end these inequalities by ending gender discrimination. How so? Be the change! Hire women, promote women, and support women as professionals—within the workplace and as business owners.
Closing the financial gaps for women begins with a shift in mindset. Listen, value and empower female voices and most importantly, don’t dismiss women as relevant candidates for higher-wage occupations. It’s a respect thing.