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The gender investing gap by the numbers

April 22, 2021

While women make up nearly half of the American workforce, they still earn just 80% of the wages of men, according to research from The Ascent. This statistic continues to affect the investing abilities of women across the board. In general, the less someone earns, the less they can invest. The fact that many women retire earlier than men creates an additional deficit in their Social Security benefits.

Despite these statistics, the gender investment gap has slowly narrowed over the years as more women seek the help of financial institutions and new technologies available online. Robo-advisors allow beginning investors to start investing online via financial advisors using minimal human interaction, and some newer online advisors even cater exclusively to women, working with their investment styles and goals.

DiversyFund compiled a list of 15 statistics relating to the gender investing gap using financial news, studies, and reports. The eye-opening list is likely to inspire anyone who is not investing yet or is currently on the fence.

19% of women have not saved money for retirement

A 2020 poll by CNBC and SurveyMonkey found that one-fifth of women have nothing saved for retirement. The reasons for women not saving for retirement are many, according to multiple recent studies. Women continue to earn less than their male counterparts in the workplace, yet still have similar household bills to pay, leaving less money left over for savings. Some women are saving, but don’t have an organized system in place to know how much they are saving, or if it will be enough.

42% of men withdrew, or planned to withdraw, from savings due to pandemic

While just 22% of women considered borrowing from their retirement savings during the past year’s pandemic, 42% of men borrowed, or considered borrowing, from their retirement accounts in order to stay afloat, according to a study by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Financial advisors advise against borrowing from a 401(k) unless it’s a real emergency.

19% of women would consider investing in a company that isn’t socially responsible

When it comes to investing in stocks, 51% of men appear to be OK investing in companies with questionable social implications (e.g., cigarette companies), according to a 2020 report by Money Crashers. However, most women report they would avoid investing in companies that were not socially responsible.

Just 46% of millennial women feel confident in their investing abilities

Women are confident in other financial areas, such as paying bills and budgeting. In fact, for those who do invest, they do very well. However, a 2018 Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study found that those who haven’t attempted to invest yet don’t feel confident going into it.

For every dollar paid to men, women are paid an average of 82 cents

The gender wage gap is one that affects every aspect of a woman’s financial life, today and into the future. Census Bureau data shows the amount of the wage gap can also vary significantly depending on career choice, race, and the state in which a woman is employed.

Men consider saving for retirement a #1 priority

Men ranked saving for retirement as their #1 priority in a 2017 Willis Towers Watson survey. Women, on the other hand, ranked retirement saving as #5 behind daily costs of living and paying down debt.

Women retire two years earlier than men

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that while most men retire around 64, women retire earlier, around 62, due to factors such as being let go from a job, retiring with their spouse, or taking care of a family member. Retiring earlier means workers lose out on more of their Social Security benefits and don’t qualify for Medicare until they are 65.

Women invest in underdog stocks that have lost money

Men tend to be aggressive investors, choosing stocks that have had massive gains and hoping for continued momentum, according to an academic study published in January 2021. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be contrarian investors: They are more attracted to stocks that have recently lost money in the hope that the stock’s luck will turn around.

45% of single women are saving for retirement

The percentage of single men and women saving for retirement is roughly the same (44% of single men are saving), according to the research from the Economic Policy Institute. However, single women have just $28,000 saved, while the single male in the same situation has $40,000 saved. Women will also typically live longer, making these numbers more worrisome.

A woman will make $850,000 less than a man over a 40-year career

On average, in an uncontrolled earnings scenario, Payscale reports that women will earn significantly less than a man in a comparable position. This means she will need to work longer, save more, and invest more over her lifetime in order to be prepared for retirement.

44% of women worry they will run out of money

Because women tend to live longer than men, on average, many women have a fear that no matter how much they save for retirement, they will end up running out of money by the time they turn 80, according to a 2018 study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave. As of 2018, the average life expectancy of U.S. males was 76.2, whereas females are expected to live to 81.2.

Setting financial goals helps 45% of women achieve those goals

Without a clear path to financial stability for the future, many women will be left on a rocky footing in their retirement years. However, a study by John Hancock’s Twine Savings and Investing app found 45% of the women who take the time to create goals and plan toward a specific financial outcome say that they are motivated to achieve that goal.

Older affluent women are twice as likely to pay for an advisor

While men may be comfortable using a digital-only service, women prefer the personal touch and advice of a financial advisor who can lead them toward the best investments, according to 2020 research from McKinsey. Affluent women investors are willing to pay more (up to a 1% or higher fee) for personalized service, where affluent males will not.

Women are smarter investors than men

For the women who do decide to invest in the stock market, they tend to come out ahead of the men, in general. Women tend to be cooler under pressure, holding onto stocks and letting them build up money instead of selling them at the first sign of trouble.

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