Closing the Gender Investment Gap

Your mother was most likely unable to have a credit card, a checking account, or a home or business loan without a man’s signature. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act which prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of gender was passed in 1974 (thanks RBG!) Now, there are 3 women on the list of the 25 richest people in the world. The second wealthiest person in finance is a woman. There are signs that there is progress towards closing the gender investment gap. In this post, we look at gender equity challenges. We then discuss the investing progress being made by women*. We finally provide resources for women to learn more about investing, including sustainable investing.

The Challenges

What are the challenges that women face in terms of acquiring wealth and getting on equal investing footing? There remains a gender pay gap. There is a significant corporate gender imbalance. Women currently invest less.

Gender Pay Gap

Women on average make 82 cents for every dollar that men make. The $0.18 gender wage gap between the wage of women and men differs significantly based on race/ethnicity. As seen in the graph below, the largest gap is between white men and Hispanic or Latino women. Hispanic or Latino women make on average $0.54 compared to White men.

Source: Center for American Progress

Corporate Gender Imbalance

In a study of almost 4,000 international publicly traded companies, only 10 companies globally achieved gender balance at all levels: board, executive, senior management and workforce. Only two of those companies are United States (US) based – Coty (COTY), a global beauty company, and Dun & Bradstreet (DNB), a data and analytics company. 

The average score for companies in the United States is 30% , one of the lowest
compared with other countries. It is ahead of only two other countries included in the comparison – Japan (27%) and Hong Kong (27%.)

Lower Investment Rates

Women overall invest 40 percent less money than men. This lack of investment may be caused by a host of reasons – less money to invest because of the gender wage gap, lack of having other women to talk to and learn from about investing, a lower risk tolerance. The average stock market return is about 10% per year for nearly the last century. By not investing, women lose the opportunity for their investment to potentially grow their wealth.

The Progress

What progress are women making in overcoming the challenges? How are they closing the gender investment gap? They are learning, taking action, and investing smarter and sustainably.

Time for A New Club

The 2021 Fidelity Financial Sentiment Survey shows that women are ready to break down the walls of the “old boys” investing club. 58% of women want help getting started investing, according to Fidelity’s survey. Millennial women most want help with investing outside of retirement. GenX women want help finding a financial pro who can help their money grow and determining how much is needed for retirement. Baby boomer women want help creating legacy docs such as a will and/or health care proxy.

An average of 71% of women plan to take financial action in the next 6 months, also according to the Fidelity survey. Those numbers differ by generation and race, as seen in the graphic below. Millennials (84%) and Latina women (83%) lead in terms of plans to take action.

Source: Fidelity

Better Investors

Research shows that women are better investors than men. Women’s portfolios outperform men’s portfolios. A study of 35,000 brokerage accounts over a six-year period found that women generated returns that were 1% higher, on average, than men.  

One of the main drivers for women being better investors is that they trade less. Single women trade 27% less frequently than single men. This is attributed to men being overly confident about their investing ability. Women also benefit from having a more disciplined approach to investing. Unlike men, they stick to a long-term investment plan. Finally, women tend to do more research and seek more advice than men.

Women and Sustainable Investing

Women desire to invest sustainably. 69% of women feel a sense of urgency to invest responsibly, as discovered in a survey conducted by Moxie Future. 63% are motivated to invest responsibly, with climate change being their top priority. Women are poised to hold more wealth, invest more, and shift the world of investing to one that is more sustainable and equitable.

The Time for Women To Take Charge

The investment world has realized that women investors demand tools and resources that meet their needs. Financial resources available for women to help with closing the gender investment gap include:

  • Ellevest: a robo-advisor built by women and for women. Ellevest provides access to investing, banking, learning, and coaching. 
  • an integrated platform designed to help learn about finances, organize and manage money, and find a community that talks about what wealth means. It is targeted at millennials but with female founders, it is designed with all genders in mind. 
  • Fidelity: offering a free series of Women Talk Money events in March to help women learn from other women about money. 
  • Invest for Better: offers impact investing resources and facilitates groups of women investors who learn from and support each other.
  • Financial Feminism: a book that offers a practical and accessible guide for any woman who wants to start thinking about how and where to invest her money (teaser: we will be publishing a blog post reviewing this book).

* The gender spectrum includes much more than women and men. We used the binary terminology of women and men in alignment with the research that is available. We hope future research includes investors of all genders.