Last Updated 4 months by Emily Standley-Allard

Despite strides in equality in certain sectors, women still navigate distinct financial challenges in 2024. The road to economic security for women requires both acknowledging these systemic factors and equipping individuals with strategies and tools. This Women’s Day, let’s chart a path towards financial empowerment – allowing women to control their economic destinies and shape a more equitable future.

In this post we’ll dive into the reasons women continue to experience financial disadvantages in 2024 and how all women can improve their financial situation, helping not only themselves but society as a whole.

working online
Image by Unsplash.com

The Persistence of Financial Inequality: Why Women Lag Behind in 2024

Despite decades of progress, the gender wealth gap is still a troubling reality in 2024. While individual empowerment is vital, understanding the complex, interconnected factors limiting women’s financial potential is crucial to create true equity. 

Here’s why women still face distinct financial hurdles:

Bank of America Study Finds 94% of Women Believe They’ll be Personally Responsible for Their Finances at Some Point in Their Lives 

Acknowledging Why Matters

Understanding the root causes isn’t about  discouragement, but targeted action. It emphasizes that girls and women’s financial disadvantage isn’t solely a personal failing, but a systemic issue demanding legislative change, workplace shifts, and societal transformation. It’s time to dismantle the structures that hold women back, allowing them to build true economic security and contribute fully to a better financial future for all.

1. The Unrelenting Power of the Wage Gap

Even in similar roles and industries, women often earn less than their male counterparts. This wage gap isn’t simply about individual salary negotiations – unconscious bias, discrimination, and the undervaluing of “women’s work” play significant roles. The lifetime impact is severe: lower earnings mean smaller retirement contributions, less ability to purchase assets, and greater vulnerability to financial shocks.

The Gender Gap in Financial Health — Financial Health Network (finhealthnetwork.org)

The Wealth Gap in Numbers

The wealth gap extends far beyond paycheck to paycheck differences. Studies show that single women hold only 32 cents for every dollar owned by single men ([Source:  National Women’s Law Center]). Even families headed by women possess much less wealth than those headed by men ([Source: St. Louis Fed]).  The disparities are even more drastic for Black and Hispanic women. #inspireinclusion

International Women’s Day 2024

2. The Caregiving Penalty

Women continue to shoulder disproportionate responsibility for caregiving, whether for children, aging parents, or family members with disabilities. 

This often includes reduced hours, career breaks, or leaving the workforce entirely. Lost wages, delayed career advancements, and fewer contributions to pensions significantly affect women’s long-term financial standing.

How COVID-19 Has Affected Women’s Finances Three Years Later (yahoo.com)

3. Bias & Barriers in Financial Systems

From lending biases, which might make it harder for women to secure loans or investments, to male-dominated financial institutions lacking understanding of women’s unique concerns, a subtle “underestimation” of women’s financial capability persists. This can limit access to wealth-building opportunities.

https://www.savvyladies.org/financial-roadmap/ – Free financial advice and guidance. 

4. The “Second Shift” and Mental Load

Even in households with a dual-income setup, women often carry the heavier burden of day to day household management, scheduling responsibilities and the bulk of childcare, pet care and elder care. This mental load and “second shift” reduce time and energy for pursuing promotions, starting businesses, or focusing on strategic financial planning.

5. The Risk Trap

Societal expectations and a historical lack of financial education often discourage women from taking calculated risks for greater returns. This fear of the stock market or hesitation to negotiate assertively contributes to wealth accumulation differences over time.

How the Gender Balance of Investment Teams Shapes the Risks They Take

Financially Savvy Women Positively Impact Men and Benefit Society

Women who are successful financial not only help themselves and their futures, but they also affect men and society in positive ways as a whole. Here’s how:

Supporting Men & Families

  • Stronger Households: Women managing finances well leads to better budgeting, increased savings, and more strategic debt elimination. This improves the financial stability of the entire family.
  • Partners in Planning: Financially confident women actively participate in household financial decisions, creating shared visions for goals like homeownership or retirement.
  • Role Models for Future Generations: As boys witness financially adept mothers, sisters, and women leaders, it helps challenge outdated gender stereotypes about earning and money management.

Broader Economic Impact

  • Boosting GDP: Women’s economic participation is shown to fuel entire economies. Financial empowerment allows women to save, invest, and start businesses, stimulating economic growth.
  • Reducing Poverty: When women control their own finances, they’re better equipped to support themselves and their children independently, lessening societal reliance on social assistance programs.
  • Diversifying Leadership: Financially empowered women bring unique perspectives to boards, investment firms, and entrepreneurial settings. This diversity can enhance decision-making and potentially address overlooked market opportunities.

Driving Social Change

  • Philanthropy: Women control a growing portion of wealth, allowing them to direct substantial support toward causes they are passionate about, advancing social initiatives.
  • Challenging the Status Quo: When women push back against pay gaps and advocate for family-friendly policies, they help reshape workplaces to benefit everyone.
  • Advocacy for Girls & Women: Financially literate women are vital advocates for policy changes that support women’s economic potential (childcare support, educational access, etc.), fueling a positive cycle of empowerment for future generations.

Important Note: It’s essential to recognize that NOT all women have the same opportunities or start from an equal point. Systemic barriers based on factors like race, education, and socioeconomic status significantly disadvantage some women, and must be addressed.

What Does Change Look Like?

Closing the gender wealth gap demands multi-pronged action:

  • Enforce Pay Equity & Transparency: Strict laws paired with salary transparency empower women to address discrimination head-on.
  • Affordable, Quality Childcare: Enable both parents to remain professionally engaged.
  • Destigmatization of Flexible Work: Reduce penalties for those needing less traditional schedules.
  • Financial Literacy for Girls: Education equips future generations to navigate complex financial systems.
  • Representation Matters: Inclusion of women at all levels of finance is key to designing responsive, accessible systems.
Image by Unsplash.com

The “Toolkit” for Women’s Financial Success

Knowledge is power. Building financial literacy can propel women toward their goals:

  • Budget Like a Pro: A detailed budget isn’t just restrictive – it’s a map. Track income, expenses, and prioritize saving goals. Free online tools and budgeting apps simplify the process.
  • Defeating Debt: High-interest debt saps future earnings. If feasible, make more than minimum payments; prioritize paying off balances with the highest interest rates.
  • Invest in Yourself: Investing may seem intimidating, but even modest contributions compound over time. Research low-cost index funds, employer-sponsored plans, and target-date funds for easy starting points.

Rethinking Resources

Accessing women-focused financial resources has never been easier. Consider:

  • Women-led Financial Firms: Many provide guidance specifically tailored to women’s needs, from career breaks to longer lifespans.
  • Credit Unions: Often offer lower fees and personalized support compared to large banks.
  • Online Learning: Webinars, articles, and courses can demystify topics like retirement planning or stock market fundamentals.

Beyond Individual Action

Achieving true financial equity demands widespread change:

  • Support Flexible Work & Childcare: Policies facilitating equal caregiving responsibilities allow women to remain active and ambitious in their careers.
  • Financial Education for Girls: Early literacy empowers future generations to manage finances confidently.
  • Community Action: Join groups raising awareness, organizing women’s financial empowerment events, and lobbying for equitable legislation.

The 2024 Call to Action: Seize the Momentum

“Let your voice be heard. Own your economic power. Build the future you and our daughters deserve.”

Additional Key Considerations

Here’s a selection of websites curated for their relevance to women’s financial empowerment in 2024. I’ve focused on diversity, including sites geared towards specific life stages and offering a range of services:

General Financial Empowerment

  • Ellevest: Financial planning and investing resources designed with women’s needs in mind. Addresses wage gaps, career breaks, and more. (https://www.ellevest.com/)
  • The Financial Diet: Practical articles, videos, and courses on budgeting, saving, debt management, and career growth. (https://thefinancialdiet.com/)
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): If entrepreneurship is a goal, the SBA offers loans, grants, and mentorship programs specifically for women-owned businesses. (https://www.sba.gov/)
  • Girls Who Invest: Focused on building the next generation of female investors, offers online educational programs and networking opportunities. (https://www.girlswhoinvest.org/)

Investing & Wealth Building

  • Worthy Bonds: Beginner-friendly investing platform offering fixed-income bonds with user-friendly information and a low starting point. (https://worthybonds.com/)
  • Acorns: Micro-investing app and educational content allowing people to invest spare change automatically and learn about markets. (https://www.acorns.com/)
  • Betterment: Offers a range of investing options through automated Robo-advisors, making investment accessible. (https://www.betterment.com/)

Addressing the Wage Gap and Job Resources

  • Salary.com: Research tools and calculators for determining fair pay, salary negotiation tips, and resources for advocating for equal compensation. (https://www.salary.com/)
  • Fairygodboss: A career hub focused on women, offering job listings, company reviews by women, and community support for salary negotiation and professional advancement. (https://fairygodboss.com/)

Specific Concerns & Communities

Important Considerations

  • Mix and Match: This isn’t exhaustive! Women may find the best results by utilizing a combination of these resources for specific needs.
  • Local Focus: Look for women’s financial groups or educational centers in your area as well.

Conclusion 

Financial empowerment doesn’t just benefit women; it uplifts all families, entire communities, and the whole economy. Whether you’re revisiting your personal budget, exploring future investments, or advocating for policy change, this Women’s Day is a reminder that a financially secure future for our daughters and women is necessary and possible. It all starts with knowledge and action.

Follow for more tips, trends and awesome ways to thrive in business and in life!

Categories list>>>