There have been 110 celebrations of an annual International Women’s Day, and the 111th iteration will not be the last. Fallout from the pandemic has increased the time to close the global gender gap from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. Not only will gender parity not be reached in our lifetime, it won’t happen in our children’s lifetime, either.
A large barrier to gender parity is economic status. Having spent the last decade as a woman in fintech, I wanted to focus on International Women’s Day 2022 through a financial lens. Women don’t want flowers and pink décor on days like today — we want equal pay and equal opportunity. You don’t have to be an activist to support women in the workplace and beyond: here are five ways you can make a difference in gender equality today.
1. Educators and Parents: fewer empowerment quotes, more empowerment from a young age
Telling young girls that they can do anything — or anything that boys can do — only makes a difference if these words are followed by action. In a survey of 1,000 parents, it was found that girls are more likely to be taught skills such as tracking spending, budgeting, and saving. Meanwhile, boys are more likely to be taught about credit scores, taxes, and bank accounts — more active pursuits that go beyond penny-pinching.
Instead of focusing on limiting all spending, teach girls how to manage their money and be active in a financial space. Show that interacting with money is neither a bad thing nor something that should be left to men. This will empower them to be conscious of their earnings in the future and help close the gender pay gap.
The road to closing the gender pay gap starts by empowering girls from a young age. (Lensi Photography, Starling Bank)
2. Writers: examine implicit stereotypes and reevaluate
Inclusive language is not only speaking about marginalized groups correctly, it’s also avoiding perpetuating stereotypes. Sixty-five percent of financial advice magazine articles define women as excessive spenders and advise them to limit spending and “control splurges.” This only reinforces the idea that women are bad at managing money instead of offering actual financial strategies.
It’s 2022: it’s no longer legal to pay women less than men and women can sign for loans, mortgages, and credit cards themselves. Talk about money the same way to women as you would for men — as something they have power over and can manage themselves.
3. Marketers: consider your imagery
Media imagery plays a big role in how women see themselves and how men see women. Advertisements might influence reality, but they don’t always reflect it. An analysis of three stock image databases found that women are often infantilized when it comes to money: they’re shown putting pennies into a piggy bank while men are flaunting stacks of bills. Women are also shown in domestic settings instead of professional spaces and are generally young and white with few representations of visible disabilities.
In short, women are shown as disconnected from finances, with their value lying in domestic contributions. The images also give the impression that women don’t “belong” in spaces where they are empowered and involved with money.
Improve representations of women by being conscious of the images you’re using in ads and other marketing materials — are women shown as naïve or helpless while men are powerful and confident? Take a page out of the #MakeMoneyEqual campaign and use or create better, more realistic images of women and their relationship with money.
Women and girls are often shown as being disconnected from finances, perpetuating the image that they shouldn’t be involved in managing money. (Lensi Photography, Starling Bank)
4. Financial Advisors: follow the data and fill gaps
The stereotype is that women are bad at managing money. Historically, women have not been in control of money, which was managed by fathers, brothers, and husbands. Women are also more likely to live in poverty, work part-time, and earn less — with less disposable income to manage, they’re also less likely to seek financial advice. Investment in women-founded startups is low, but when investors are taught that women are not reliable with money, they don’t invest, and the cycle continues.
In reality, women and men spend similarly on a daily basis. Money is and should be genderless, so it should be talked about the same way to everyone. That being said, when almost half of women have negative associations with financial planning, it means there is a need to improve existing resources.
Think of ways you can fill gaps in education and promote confidence in investing. The Bank of Montreal’s BMO for Women and the Women of Influence initiative are two ways organizations are supporting women in business and finance. CPA Canada is offering a series of free webinars for women to explore different aspects of finances and investing.
You don’t need to explain money differently to women than you would to men. Instead, focus on creating opportunities for women to learn about and discuss money in a safe space.
5. Recruiters: improve hiring processes to break the cycle
One of the goals for improving gender equality is increasing the representation of women in business, and especially in leadership positions. The best way to avoid tokenism, especially in fields where women are especially underrepresented, is to increase the number of women in total.
Normalize hiring and promoting women to these positions. The more women are represented in the business world and the more financial education for women is improved, the easier it will be to change stereotypes and stigmas surrounding women and finance.
The cycle of gender inequality won’t be fixed by focusing on quotas. Hiring based on merit through a fair and objective screening process is the only way to avoid women being deemed the “diversity hire.” Using recruitment software like the Knockri Assessment ensures that every candidate is given a fair shot and that only skills are being evaluated — not gender, age, or race. Book a demo to chat with our HR solutions consultant about how you can make your hiring and succession planning process fairer for women.
Note: The use of “women” in this article is not limited to those who are cisgender and includes all persons who identify as women.