International Women?s Day should be about three things: celebrating the progress we?ve made towards equality, recognising there?s more to do, and recommitting ourselves to eliminating gender inequality.
Then again, I recognise the irony here: I?m a bloke in a male dominated field — finance in general, and investing in particular — passing judgement on an issue that I have experience with, but only from the outside. I?m not female. I haven?t suffered from the explicit and implicit gender stereotyping that tells women that finance isn?t for them. That money isn?t something girls should worry about. That finance is what we see in Wolf of…
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International Women’s Day should be about three things: celebrating the progress we’ve made towards equality, recognising there’s more to do, and recommitting ourselves to eliminating gender inequality.
Then again, I recognise the irony here: I’m a bloke in a male dominated field — finance in general, and investing in particular — passing judgement on an issue that I have experience with, but only from the outside. I’m not female. I haven’t suffered from the explicit and implicit gender stereotyping that tells women that finance isn’t for them. That money isn’t something girls should worry about. That finance is what we see in Wolf of Wall Street: testosterone, braces, swearing and drinking… you know, guy stuff.
It drives me nuts.
It drives me nuts because women are missing out. It drives me nuts because, as the cliche goes, ‘a man is not a plan’. And it drive me nuts because, contrary to the stereotypes, Warren Buffett invests like a girl!
And we all pay the price. Our mothers, sisters and daughters are less likely to enjoy an independent, comfortable financial future — because of the gender stereotypes our society has perpetuated. I know, because at the company I work for, the overwhelming majority of members are men. As in, somewhere above 8 out of 10. Maybe they’re investing on behalf of their wives and their families? Sure, but where are the women investing on behalf of their husbands?
And gents, we’re worse off, too. In any professional endeavour — medicine, law, childcare and yes, finance — if you’re only drawing from around half of the available talent pool, you’re not getting the best. Now, things are changing — the editor of Fairfax’s Money section is female. As are most of the presenters on Sky News Business and ABC’s The Business program. J.P. Morgan’s Australian Chief Economist is a woman, and they don’t come better than Fairfax’s own Elizabeth Knight and Adele Ferguson. On the flipside, when we last advertised for new staff to join The Motley Fool, there was just a single female applicant.
The good news is that finance has never been more accessible. Thanks to the internet and (slowly) changing attitudes, investing has been democratised. If you’re female and reading this — and if you haven’t already — please get started investing. And whether you’re male or female, please share this with a female friend, family member or colleague. Women, getting started is easier than ever — and easier than you think:
- Women tend to be better with money. That gives you an instant head-start, because you need to have it to invest it.
- You don’t need to cosyup to an old-school stockbroker from central casting. A good broker will value you regardless of gender (and I’m yet to meet a woman without a finely tuned ability to know when she’s being condescended to). Or you can embrace the low-cost, online brokerage opportunity, and do it yourself with a few clicks.
- You have the skills. As I mentioned above, Warren Buffett invests like a girl. So do most of the great investors I know. Don’t believe the movies: women make great investors.
- The rewards make it worthwhile. The statistics on compounding are astonishing. And while the best time to start investing is ‘yesterday’, the next best time is today.
I’m glad men are taking control of their financial futures. But I’m frustrated that more women aren’t. I don’t blame them, but I know it’s costing them. And that drives me nuts. Please do yourself a favour. Get started investing, today. It’s easier than you think, and incredibly worthwhile.
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Scott Phillips is the Motley Fool’s director of research. You can follow Scott on Twitter @TMFScottP. Motley Fool contributor Scott Phillips (TMFGilla) has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.