When a Washington, D.C-based nonprofit held a series of investment seminars for women nurses at a local hospital, only one or two nurses showed up. But when the nonprofit team changed the names of the seminars, emphasizing the words “financial security” instead of “investing,” suddenly the room filled up with attendees.
This story highlights that women are interested in investing. They just see the concept in a different light or associate it with a different name.
That’s right: The idea that women aren’t interested in investing is a myth.
The Investing Industry Was Created “By Men, For Men”
Sallie Krawcheck, Wall Street veteran and CEO of Ellevest, likes to say that the investing industry was created “by men, for men,” and therefore defaulted to their preferences and characteristics. She points out how the industry places special importance on trading to beat a market index, rather than doing so to accomplish a specific goal, and is overrun by the financial media, which closely resembles sports networks.
Until recently, most firms seemed to focus primarily on male clientele and often relied on financial jargon that men seem to have a higher tolerance for. And then there’s the industry symbol of a bull — a figure that is literally masculine by definition.
Given all this, it makes sense that women haven’t been particularly enthralled with what most investment firms are offering.
Other Industries Have Also Historically Omitted the Female Perspective
The investment world isn’t the only industry that’s designed this way, of course. Design, business, media and technology have also historically omitted the female perspective. Some female entrepreneurs argue that as a result, men move through the world unaware that it’s been designed for their comfort, while women move through the world encountering small, daily points of friction or discomfort. The pain points they encounter in the investment world are especially detrimental, however, because their financial wellbeing impacts their livelihood.
Fortunately, now that women’s economic influence is growing, it appears investing is the next hurdle they are ready to jump. In 2015, Merrill Lynch found that just over 50 percent of women said they wanted to participate in making changes to their investment approach — nearly mirroring the 55 percent of men who said the same.
And when Fidelity asked what women would most like to learn with 60 minutes of professional financial advice, the first choice listed by women in every age group was “learning more about how to invest my money.” It’s clear that women are more ready than ever to carve out their place in the world of investing.
Like the nurses who attended the educational workshops referenced earlier, we’ve also found that women become especially engaged in financial planning when they realize investments can serve as a vehicle to care for their families, reflect their values and give them peace of mind.
Call it what you will — investing, financial security, asset management — but when women make this connection, chances are they’ll enjoy it more than they ever expected.
Keep The Conversation Going About Money Myths
If you’d like to learn more about money myths and how we can rewrite the rules, download our free eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money. Also consider attending one of our Conversation Circles, where we have authentic discussions about money and everything that comes with it — our fears, our successes, our memories, and the attitudes, behaviors and legacies we’ve adopted over the years.