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October 26 2018

The Investment Gap: Young Women Less Likely to Invest than Young Men

by Charlotte Hays

Young women are more careful about discretionary spending and are more likely to have a second job than their male counterparts. Market Watch columnist Jillian Berman comments:

Women report spending less per week than men on discretionary items — $98 versus $152 — and nearly three-quarters of young women said they held off on buying something so they could save more, compared to 56% of men, according to a survey of 2,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 released Thursday by bank and brokerage firm Charles Schwab.

Despite these habits, the young women are behind in two key areas: saving and investing. They have saved on average $1,267 compared to $2,000 from their male counterparts. Six percent reported an investment account, compared to 11 percent of young men.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, a senior vice president of Schwab and daughter of the founder, is concerned about these trends. She says that part of the reason is that young women are paid 80 percent of what young men are paid.

This gender wage gap all but disappears when choices women make (from college majors to taking time out to raise children) are factored into the equation. Another possible factor: about two thirds of outstanding college loan debt is held by women. This makes investing harder.

Pomerantz-Schwab says parents should talk to girls about obstacles they face that their brothers won't--this smacks of telling girls that their lot in life will be harder than men, a point of reference dear to the hearts of feminists but harder to justify now that women outnumber men on college campuses and are sought after by firms.

I'm not sure "You Face A Lot of Disadvantages" is the best message for young women--and it isn't true.

However, Pomerantz-Schwab puts forward other exceppent tips for preparing young women to become investors: help daughters start savings accounts early and encourage them to understand benefits packages in their early jobs. Talk about retirement before they enter the full-time workforce.

But she leaves out one of the most valuable tips of all: it might be helpful if daughters were to encouraged to evaluate the financial aspects of picking a college major.

Women's Studies, or engineering? It would be truly empowering to look into the issue of how your major affects your earning potential.

Preparing young women to think about their major is more advantageous than filling them full of stories about being disadvantaged.

 



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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