Women aren't any worse at managing money than men are — so why do financial advisors act like ladies are clueless spendthrifts?
That's a question Hannah Seligson tackles in a thought-provoking essay for Slate. First of all, she marshals the evidence: young single men and young single women spend at roughly the same rates (if you want to keep the stereotypes alive: women spend more on clothes, but guys spend more on cars). There's not much difference in credit scores between men and women. Women don't save as much as they should, but these days, neither do men. And women are less likely to make risky investments than men are. So why the proliferation of books like SHOO, Jimmy Choo! The Modern Girl's Guide to Spending Less and Saving More and Does This Make My Assets Look Fat?, "with their 'Girl, get a clue' tone; their covers and titles that imply we are all out-of-control spenders on shoes and clothes; and their tendency to put financial concepts in the language of dieting and weight?"
Seligson offers one theory: women may be less confident about their financial acumen than men are. This suggests the existence of a vicious cycle — keep writing books called, Quit Buying Shoes, Stupid Ladies, and ladies will feel stupid and read them. There may be other factors at work, however. As long as women make less than men for doing the same job, they'll need to try even harder to scrimp and save. And as long as women are more likely to leave the workforce to care for children or family members, they'll need advice for maintaining nest eggs in the event of divorce or the loss of a spouse. Financial independence was not the norm for women for a long time, and it can still be tough for us to achieve — it's not surprising that some of us feel we need extra help.
That said, things may be changing. Seligson notes that young married women are more likely than older women — or men — to play a major role in family money matters. And now that a very specific slice of the female population outearns men, maybe at least their financial confidence levels will go up. But as Sadie pointed out, "the vast majority are still earning $.78 to the dollar" — and they need real advice, not shit about shoes.