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What I Think About Women + Money + Sexism

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Women and MoneyAre we done yet with the women suck at managing money jokes?  “My wife spends all my money, blah blah blah.”  “Hold your wife’s hand in the mall; it looks romantic but actually economical.”  It’s tired, played out and downright sexist.

Over the last couple of weeks I have heard many people share stories about sexist attitudes towards women and how they manage their money.  For the record these are professional women with jobs being told in their place of work that they need to ask permission to spend money or imply that they are bad with money in some way shape or form.  It doesn’t even matter if it’s a stay at home mom at the receiving end of these jokes.  Not cool either way.

Women + Money

On a personal level I hear jokes directed at women in my family about if they didn’t have a credit card it would save their husband money.  The general theme is that women overspend the family money and under provide to the household financially.

Women are bad with money is a “joke” I think that we have heard enough of.   And let’s be honest here – lots of people regardless of gender, age or ethnic background suck at managing money.  It’s not as if debt or overspending is a strictly female problem.

Why women aren’t bad at money

It’s probably not going to work if I just say that women aren’t worse than men with money.  So I have some studies to “prove” it.

  1. Women are better at managing debt. According to a Value Penguin study from 2015 women tend to have less credit card debt then men, with men having 22% more credit card debt than women.
  2. Another study from Vanguard says that women are more likely than men to participate in workplace savings plans at all levels, even though the balances of women have in their accounts are lower, mainly due to lower wages.
  3. Set it and forget it is right.  Women are less likely to dip into their retirement accounts, 23% vs 33% of men, according to a 2013 report from HSBC.

Why it doesn’t matter even if we are awesome?

It doesn’t even matter if I say 1 million times in 1 million different ways that women aren’t terrible with money because for too many people it doesn’t matter.  The reality is that women, bring home the bacon, fry it and put the kids to bed at night as well.  According to a study from Pew Research Centre 40% of households with children under the age of 18 “include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family.”  In 2/3 of those situations they are single parent households.  There is no other person to hold their hand at the mall to make sure they don’t spend any money.  They make all the decisions.  Still garbage stereotypes exist.

What we can do to change this underlying issue

We need to do a lot.  Women do have less money in retirement savings than their male counterparts.  Mainly because women tend to earn less than men.  However that isn’t the full picture because in industries dominated by women (think child care and retail service) they tend to be paid a lot less than industries dominated by men (think transportation and construction).  Men without an education can secure higher paying jobs than women with the same education level.  It is no wonder that more women than men get into post-secondary education and complete their degree.

Women are also usually tapped as the primary child care providers so they will leave their career for some period of time.  They will either not return or come back after as much as a year off (thank you Canada).  Time off for maternity gets in the way of advancement, promotions and salary growth making them fall further behind their male counterparts.

We also need to recognize that these types of “jokes” are not funny.  No jokes that are based on gender, colour, or sexuality are.  Politically correct is basically just being decent to other human beings.  Not support companies that don’t support women or make a profit off of these types of garbage jokes.

How you can do better

First and foremost women have to support other women.  You would think this goes without saying but women actually don’t support each other as much as we need them to.   Also make sure you do know about money.  I wish there was a better way or better suggestion but there isn’t.  Many times people who are at the end of stereotypical comments and “jokes” have to work twice as hard to prove that they are not correct.  Ask for that raise at work, take care of your money and make things happen.  It’s not too hard I promise and there are so many people who can help, on the internet and otherwise.  It is not your partner’s responsibility to provide for you, you are the only one that can take care of you.

If you are male, stop with the jokes.  If you never make these jokes call people out on them when others make them.  Calling your buddies, family and co-workers out on sexist jokes might be hard at first but eventually it’s liberating.  We as women can only do so much.  We need allies to help support us.  Trust me when I say that if a female calls out a joke as sexist it comes across much differently.  I wish it weren’t the case but right now we need you to help us with this conversation.

This isn’t about dividing the group and pitting one against another.  It’s about common decency among all of us and helping each other overcome these stereotypical responses.  It does go the other way when guys aren’t good with money it comes across as weak or girly.  Since when is being girly a bad thing?

Sarah

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3 comments

  1. All of this. Thank you so much for writing this post. Since starting our blog, we’ve been on a mission to open up a conversation about women handling their finances. And while doing this, we’ve been trying to show men we can hang with the “big boys,” and yet, whenever veering into investment territory, we’re still being told we couldn’t possibly know anything. Sorry sir, but my portfolio begs to differ.

    Love the advice on supporting other women. Hope we can make a difference.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      I’m happy you liked the post. It’s not even exclusively about money/investments. It’s about business, decision making or basically anything else. Women need to support other women because when men hear women talking about others behind their back they think, “well if that woman doesn’t like her then maybe there is something wrong with her”. There is no sisterhood vs the brotherhood that exists on the male side. I hope that is changing since I’m writing this on the day of the Women’s March and I have never been so proud to be female in my life.

      My biggest advocate is Scott and I don’t think I could be with a partner who didn’t have my back and was a feminist. I know I didn’t use that term but the more men that truly call themselves feminists the more support we can get and the more we can change the game and how we are viewed as the “lesser” gender. Let me know what you ladies need and we are happy to support you!
      Sarah

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