Women have always had the wherewithal to handle our own financial independence, to plan for retirement, to succeed in owning our own businesses, to excel in the workplace, and so much more. Though it’s taken years of dedication and hard work for society to start catching on to this fundamental truth, women are making remarkable strides. In honor of Women’s History Month (and beyond), here are just a few of the ways that women continue to make financial waves.
4 ways to amplify your voice as a woman
Making the most of your earning potential — and therefore taking control of your own personal finance — begins with getting the proper education. Luckily, women have been slowly working on that goal for years. According to the Pew Research Center, women have overtaken men and now account for more than half (50.7%) of the college-educated labor force in the United States.
To be fair, it’s been about four decades now that women have been surpassing men in the number of Americans earning a bachelor’s degree each year, so it only makes sense that the workforce is finally catching up.
We’re making (slightly) more money
Women are earning slightly more than they were in 2015 (7 cents more, to be exact), but we still earn less overall than men. Median weekly earnings in the third quarter of 2022 were $971 for women, just 83.4% of the median for men, which was $1,164.
Progress in this area feels glacial paced, but at least we know more about the gender pay gap than we ever have before. For example, the gender pay narrows for younger women, specifically, as they increase their education level and start breaking into occupations traditionally dominated by men. Sadly, while women have a growing presence in higher paying industries — they made up 27% of STEM workers in 2019, for example, which was a gain from 8% in 1970 — women are still over-represented in lower paying industries, while higher paying fields are still dominated by men. Case in point: Men made up 73% of all STEM workers in 2019, despite representing only 52% of U.S. workers at that point.
The more we can encourage young girls to become interested in and study subjects with higher earning potential, the better positioned women will be to close the gender pay gap even further in the future. Continuing with the STEM example, at least, the younger generation seems to be taking this to heart: In 2020, women represented 45% of the students majoring in STEM fields, which was up from 40% in 2010 and 34% in 1994.
We’re working on gaining back our breadwinner status in the home
In 2019, two-thirds of mothers were either breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families, more than four in 10 (41.2%) were sole or primary breadwinners, and 24.8% were co-breadwinners earning at least 25% of their families’ wages.
Then the pandemic hit.
It’s no secret that Covid-19 impacted working women (and mothers, in particular) more than men. In fact, from February 2020 to January 2022, male workers had regained all the jobs lost due to the pandemic, while 1.1 million women left the labor force during that same timeframe, accounting for 63% of all jobs lost. Prior to the public health crisis, though, the statistics had shown women steadily gaining ground in the breadwinning arena, with the prevalence of breadwinning mothers increasing over time and, according to some studies, about 70% of U.S. moms can still expect to be primary financial provider before their first child turns 18.
We’re opening small businesses…and succeeding
Owning a small business has become more of an American dream for women in recent years, and we’re making that dream a reality in droves. In fact, women started 40% of new businesses in the U.S. in 2021, up from 28% in 2019, U.S. women-owned businesses generate $1.8 trillion a year, and women have a 69.5% success rate of crowdfunding for their businesses, compared to 61.4% for men.
That’s not to say that women who own small businesses don’t have certain struggles. Overall, men receive an average loan size of $43,916, while women receive an average loan size of $38,942. The more women can become aware of the different financial resources at their disposal — like the Amber Grant, the IFundWomen grant and the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards program, to name a few — the more likely they are to gain access to the funds necessary to help their businesses thrive.
Why financial independence is so important for women
Financial independence for women goes beyond the statistics. Besides the obvious benefits — the ability to provide for ourselves when necessary and make our own financial decisions — women who are in charge of their finances and have a high level of financial literacy often feel better emotionally, as well. According to a new study, 68% of women say they are most proud of engaging with their finances on a regular basis (an additional 56% said they were most proud of paying off debt, 53% of buying a home and 53% of being able to talk openly about money).
The world looks very different for women today than it did even a decade ago, but there is still work to be done. If you have any questions about your own financial future — whether personal or business related — give us a call. Our financial advisors are here to help when it comes to managing finances.