Finances and Feminism – Do Women Need a Different Financial Education to Men?

As part of my work as a financial adviser, I have often presented classes and seminars on the subject of personal finance, and I have found that one of the most popular subjects that people want to hear about is women and finance.

Recently, at one such seminar, I was approached by a gentleman who asked me, “What’s the difference in investing for men and women?” “You should teach a class on ‘Investing for Men,’” he chided.

In today’s post-feminist era, when many women do jobs that used to only be done by men and the concept of a “working mom” has become the norm, this is an interesting question. Why are women singled out for such seminars?

Are Women Still Different?

Did your mother work out of the house? Odds are that she did, but nowhere near the amount that your father did. As such, she probably didn’t earn as much as he did, she didn’t gather as much money in her pensions, and she probably won’t get the same level of government pension (social security, etc.). This means that unless her husband has a sizeable spousal benefit for his pension, or their savings are sufficient and their post-retirement withdrawals are minimal, she may be at risk of becoming a poor widow. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a widow’s lifestyle to drop after her spouse dies, since his death brings an end to his pension.

At the same time, there are certain cultural attitudes that have survived despite the changes in women’s opportunities. For example, though with some couples, the wife doles out an allowance to her husband, more often than not, in many homes it is still the husband who handles the money. Even if the Mrs. deals with day-to-day expenses, usually it is the Mr. who makes the big money decisions like investment choices.

Why Do Women Need to Handle Money?

In today’s modern world, women need to be able to fend for themselves. Indeed, today’s generation of schoolgirls might not even be able to understand gender-related discrimination in finances or the work field since they are learning that girls, with the right education, can do just as well, if not better, than their male counterparts. However, older women may need to be taught crucial fiscal skills that weren’t the norm when they were growing up. Indeed, if you look at the disparity of income, the prevalence of divorce, and the fact that women live longer than men, it is clear that courses on the topic of women and investing are critical.