Does Gender Really Influence Money?
From our values to our country’s history, there are many factors within our society that influence and impact how we use money.
Truth is, we can’t really have a money conversation without talking about how gender factors into the equation.
Money + Gender Historically
Gender has had an impact on money for a very long time in our country. Prior to the 1800’s, women had limited rights as far as money and property ownership were concerned. Handling property and finances was seen as a job of the husband in the house.
The 1800’s were characterized by some movement in the right direction:
In 1825, Rebecca Lukens became the first woman to lead an industrial company.
In the mid-1800’s, both married and unmarried women started gaining more rights over their own money.
New York passed the Married Women’s Property Act, which gave a married woman the same financial rights as an unmarried woman.
Emancipated black women in Mississippi working as laundresses started to unionize and work towards better pay and rights.
And, the first women-owned Wall Street brokerage house opened as well — pushing women to become investors.
We similarly saw a lot of progress in the 1900’s:
The first bank chartered by a woman was opened.
The first woman was hired as Secretary of Labor.
In the 1960s women were granted the right to have their own personal bank accounts.
In 1968, the Fair Housing Act was passed, making it illegal to discriminate based on race or gender when home lending.
And, in 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed, allowing women to apply for credit and loans without a male co-signer.
We’ve seen some huge strides in the past 20 years of the 2000’s as well:
The Ledbetter vs. Goodyear case bin 2007 paved the way for the Fair Pay Act passed in 2009 by Obama, which worked to close the wage gap.
In 2011, The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was formed to promote fair lending practices of financial institutions and to protect individuals from discriminatory business practices.
And, in 2019, 102 women were sworn into the United States Congress — a record breaking number of women working to get their views incorporated into our political system.
Despite the immense progress that’s been achieved over the past 250 years, a wage gap still exists.
The Glass Ceiling Effect
Beyond the simple fact that women are paid less than men, we also see a disparity in the level that women are able to reach in companies. This phenomena has been coined the “Glass Ceiling Effect.” The Glass Ceiling Effect is the invisible barrier that prevents women and minorities from rising to the highest levels in a corporation, specifically management positions.
How Severe is the Pay Gap?
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2019 females in general earned on average 81 cents to every dollar earned by males. This gap becomes significantly larger when we factor race into the equation. Black women make only 62 cents to every dollar that a white man makes; and, these numbers are even lower for Indigenous women at 57 cents and Hispanic women at 54 cents.
A recent study also demonstrated that average earnings for male-to-female transgender workers fell by nearly 33%, and average earnings for female-to-male transgender workers rose slightly.
So, What Do We Do With This Information?
Great news! You’re already taking the first step to better understand our economy and the barriers have been in place for women, and more specifically women of color.
Closing the wage gap is not something that can happen overnight, but we can see that there has been slow and steady progress, so keeping that momentum is key.
If you’re a woman, or non-binary, apply for that position you’re looking at! Studies have shown that males have a much higher tendency to apply for jobs they are not qualified for. There’s no risk in aiming higher, expecting more for yourself, and telling yourself that you can be good at any position you put your mind to.
With all the conversation going on right now around unemployment, starting businesses, and the future of our U.S. economy, it’s important that we support female led businesses, especially minority, female owned businesses. These businesses have had to take extra steps to get to where they are today, and deserve our support. Here in Minneapolis, there are a ton!
Finally, to all the guys out there, make sure you’re amplifying the voices of your female coworkers and advocating for their advancement in the company — your support goes a long way!