“Owning your power and money means owning your worth. ~
” Amanda Steinberg
Have Women Made Progress in Taking Charge of Finances?
Recently, I was amazed to learn that women’s financial worth is the highest it’s ever been. Did you know that globally, women hold about 30% of private wealth and about 51% of personal wealth in the US? And, many of these women are self-made, says author and money expert Amanda Steinberg. Women are also the primary income earners in 40% of American households – which represents about a fourfold increase since 1960.
Despite these favorable numbers, today’s women are still gaining a foothold around their contemporary roles in finances. In a recent report, while, almost 90% of women in relationships said they are involved in household spending and investing decisions – twice as many as in 2012 - more than half of the women surveyed by UBS in 2018 and 2020 said they defer to their partners when it comes to major financial decisions and long-term investments. Why is this?
Given that women face these current contradictory circumstances today, it’s insightful to wonder about the history that influences our attitudes and habits.
We've Come a Long Way!
We’ve come a long way as women since the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up. For example, I watched my mother stay in a relationship that was not healthy for her though she had so much more to offer. As a young girl, it was hard for me to understand why she would not strike out on her own. Yet, it was equally clear that she had no confidence in her ability to find work to support herself and no money skills. It was only when I got older that I realized how few options there actually were for women like her in the 1960s. Women couldn’t even get a credit card in their own name until 1974. Nowadays, so many young mothers start their own businesses so they can work from home, be with their children, and create interesting lives for themselves and their family.
When it comes to managing money, there are mixed reports that seem to reflect that women are still navigating a changing paradigm along with traditional roles. According to one report, almost 90% of women in relationships said they are involved in household spending and investing decisions – twice as many as in 2012. Even more intriguing is that while almost one third of women claimed to be the primary person responsible for these decisions, only 5% of men surveyed agreed with that claim.
Yet, when it comes to major financial decisions and long-term investments, more than half of the women surveyed by UBS in 2018 and 2020 said they defer to their partners. This was true even for women with advanced degrees and only slightly lower (41%) for women who said they were the primary breadwinner. The numbers were similar in same-sex partnerships. Even 30% of women in financial professions said they deferred to their partner.
Most of these women said yes, they believe in gender equality and considered equal financial participation in relationships to be important. Many of them said their intention to share financial decisions with their partner changed after marriage. Often, women said they felt too busy and were happy to defer those decisions.
Pushing Towards Financial Empowerment
By comparing our history with modern statistics, there is no doubt that women have absolutely made progress when it comes to taking charge of our finances. However, there are still a few cultural and psychological roadblocks that get in our way. Whether these come from traditional gender roles or our own personal fears around money, the obstacles are things we must keep pushing past on our way to financial empowerment. This article is part of a 2-part series. In my next post, I discuss the cultural and psychological barriers women face more in-depth. Stay tuned for that!
I encourage you to take some time to reflect on these statistics - do they reflect the circumstances in your own life? How are they similar or different? And what’s caused them to be that way? It's worth reflecting on our money beliefs and considering if there's any changes we'd like to make going forward.
If you enjoyed this blog post, you might like to check out my free journal activity e-Book, Create Your Life and Money Vision. This journal leads you through a series of prompts to help you envision your ideal life and money situation. You can use it as an opportunity to further reflect on the financial circumstances of women today!
From my heart to yours, Suzanne Sky - Life Resilience & Financial Wellness Coach
I'm a life coach specializing in financial wellness and resilience. I offer a heart-centered approach along with practical skills to help transform financial worry, anxiety, and stress into clarity, creativity, and a positive relationship with money. I offer a free 20-minute Connection Session to discuss the possibility of us working together. I'd love to meet you!