Neither men nor women feel particularly confident about investment decisions, but women are less confident, according to study after study, including two new ones. Not everyone sees this as a bad thing, and yet it's arguably a mechanism of inequality.
One study of 1500 participants found that only 26 percent of women felt confident about making their own investment decisions, while 44 percent of men did. Financial confidence was down overall. Interestingly, a separate study of 300 people found more than a confidence gap: It found a self-perception gap:
Women see themselves as more collaborative, while men see themselves as the decision makers. About 60 percent of married men said they make the investment and financial decisions in the household, the survey found, while fully three-fourths of married women said the decisions are made jointly.
By those numbers, there's a dissonance in what men and women are defining as being "collaborative" versus singly-undertaken decisions. In any case, at least one expert paraphrased in the piece considers it a good thing that women across various countries are less "confident" in such decisions: "As result, they also are less like to jump in and out of investments trying to chase the highest returns."
In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, there was a lot of talk about how gender played into the risky, intemperate decisions made in major financial institutions, and how women's storied risk-averse behavior might actually prove to be an asset. By most accounts, nothing has really changed on Wall Street, but that doesn't mean that personal financial choices can't. Particularly in moving the needle to some productive place between timidness and overconfidence.