The answer to 'Where are the women investors?'

If you're a woman reading this, I do want to help you take the first – or next – step in your investing journey.

A woman holds out a handful of Australian dollars.

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Full disclosure… I am not a member of The Motley Fool's investment team, nor would I consider myself an expert in finance. I am a forty-plus woman who is also a wife, mother, a full-time Fool and an investor. My first share purchase was many years ago when I took the advice of someone I'd just met at a barbeque – it was going to be a sure thing. It wasn't.

Just over 11 years ago I started working for The Motley Fool. I now lead The Motley Fool's product team here in Australia. In what feels like another life I used to work as an accountant and taught secondary students Business and Economics – over the years I have seen things change in the world of investing.

But one thing that hasn't changed (enough in my opinion), though, is the number of women investors. Don't get me wrong, there are women out there investing (and doing quite well for themselves) or who are wanting to invest, but the male voice is dominant in this area. This was highlighted in a conversation I had at a recent member event when I was talking to a guest who pointed out that it would be great to hear a "female" voice and more recently when Scott wrote "Where are the women investors" (hence the title of my article!).

And that's the reason why I came out from "behind the wall" today (and believe me when I say, this is really out of my comfort zone but hopefully there's a lesson in that alone!).

So while all the data shows that there is a lack of women investors  – amateur and professional – when compared to our male counterparts, the question is why?

Because what we don't read very often is that multiple studies have found that women outperform men when investing as we take on less risk, we don't tend to invest in fads and our temperament sees us better able to handle volatility.

Women talk. But are we talking about the right things? Growing up in the 80s (I'm showing my age) my family didn't talk about finance, budgets or mortgages – I wish we had.

So, it's up to us. You, actually.

Now think about what's stopping you?

Is it that you don't know "how" or "where" to start?

Is it that you think you don't have enough funds to put away? What if I told you with a little bit of a mind shift you would be surprised with how you can make it work… for you?

Does it seem overwhelming and you don't feel you have the knowledge?

No, this isn't a sales pitch. I'm not going to ask for anything. I want more women to be investors (actually, I really want everyone to!). And, if you're a woman reading this, I do want to help you take the first – or next – step in your investing journey.

I know when I first started with The Fool my investing knowledge was limited – and I had studied finance! But in the years since, I have read more, listened (even more) and I have been patient.

Now, let's be honest. I'm not expecting we are going to solve the mystery of investing by writing one small piece… just like I wouldn't be able to complete a marathon after going for my first 5 kilometre run… but both can start by taking some small steps and building onto them.

It just starts with making a plan and setting your own goal.

For me, that's two words: financial freedom.

You will often hear us talk about financial freedom, but what is it? I think this is a really personal question and will differ depending on who you ask. For me, it all comes down to my family and the opportunities I hope to provide them. For you, it might be an early retirement, being able to buy the designer handbag (Scott and I will agree to disagree on this), or to travel the world. We are all different, with different goals. But take a moment and think… What's your goal and how can you get there?

You might not know that answer… and what you think it is today, may change tomorrow (mine likely will!). I'll return regularly in this space (it's a nice little surprise for Scott!) but in the meantime if you have thoughts or questions, please drop us a line at [email protected].

Fool on!

Motley Fool contributor Erin Bouwmeester has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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