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The Financial Literacy Gap for Women

When it comes to personal finance and wealth building, women face a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Women still report lower confidence levels than men in managing their cash flow and debt, allocating investments, and planning for retirement. This highlights the importance of bridging the financial literacy gap for women.

Scott Mass, Senior Vice President of Investments at David Lerner Associates, Inc., notes, “Despite strides towards equality, women still face hurdles such as the wage gap and underrepresentation in investment spaces. However, these challenges come with opportunities for women to learn, grow, and take control of their financial futures.”

Barriers in Society & the Workplace

Women today are more educated and economically active than ever, yet they encounter distinct financial challenges.

The wage gap remains a stark reality, with women earning approximately 82 cents for every dollar men make—a disparity that significantly impacts lifetime earnings, savings, and retirement planning. The 18 percent wage disparity results in a loss exceeding $400,000 in potential wealth over a career spanning four decades.

Women often take career breaks for caregiving, further affecting their financial stability and investment opportunities.

However, significant strides have been made to narrow the gender pay gap. This gives women increased disposable income, creating chances for accumulating wealth.

A report by McKinsey & Company titled “The Power of Parity” estimated that promoting gender equality could contribute as much as $12T to the global economy by 2025. Earning more money has a broader impact when it comes to women; the focus shifts to aiding others, be it close family members or the wider community.

Such a ripple effect is crucial in today’s world.

Investment Trends Among Women

On the investment front, women used to be more conservative investors than men. The core of the problem has been a need for more confidence rather than an inability to grasp financial concepts. Also, contrary to popular misconception, women aren’t more risk averse. Instead, they’re more risk aware.

Recent trends paint an encouraging picture of women’s growing engagement in investing.

According to Fidelity Investments’ 2021 Women and Investing Study, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of women express a desire to take a more active role in their financial matters, including decisions related to investments.

The study found that 67 percent of women now invest outside of retirement. More women are taking the reins of their financial futures, with a surge in female investors seeking to diversify their portfolios from stocks and bonds to real estate and startups.

Women’s investment strategies often focus on long-term gains, risk management, and ethical investing, aligning financial growth with personal values.

Breaking the Cycle of Dependence

Financial independence is not just about having wealth; it’s about having choices—the freedom to make life decisions without being overly stressed about the financial implications.

Achieving financial independence is crucial for women’s futures, especially considering their longer life expectancies and the need for robust retirement planning.

Strategies for Long-term Financial Planning

Long-term financial planning is essential, encompassing savings, investments, insurance, and retirement planning.

Key strategies include:

  • Educating oneself on financial basics: Understanding budgeting, saving, investing, and credit management lays the groundwork for informed decision-making.
  • Starting early: The power of compound interest means that the earlier you start saving and investing, the better.
  • Diversifying investments: Spreading assets across different investment vehicles can reduce risk and increase potential returns.
  • Planning for retirement: Considering longer life expectancies, women should focus on building a substantial retirement nest egg, factoring in healthcare costs and inflation.
  • Seeking professional advice: Work with an experienced investment counselor who can provide personalized strategies aligned with individual goals and circumstances.

Highlighting Successful Female Investors and Entrepreneurs

Somebody can find inspiration in the stories of successful female investors and entrepreneurs who have shattered glass ceilings and built fortunes.

Geraldine Weiss, Muriel Siebert, Abigail Johnson, and Mellody Hobson stand as towering figures in finance. Each has broken barriers and set benchmarks for female investors.

  • Weiss defied expectations by launching a successful investment newsletter that outperformed the U.S. stock market’s broadest measure from 1986 to early 2022.
  • Siebert, hailed as “The First Woman of Finance,” was the pioneering woman to secure a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and later became New York State’s first female banking superintendent.
  • Johnson, a billionaire, helms Fidelity Investments, guiding the firm with her leadership and vision.
  • Fortune recognizes Hobson as one of the most influential women. She has held significant roles on the boards of JPMorgan Chase and Starbucks and currently co-leads Ariel Investments, where she initiated Project Black to support Black—and Latino-owned businesses.

Together, these women exemplify female investors’ profound impact and contribution to the financial industry and broader economic landscape.

These trailblazers demonstrate the potential for success and serve as role models, showing that financial acumen and independence are within reach for all women.


Bridging the financial literacy gap for women is not just a matter of fairness; it’s a necessity for economic progress and societal well-being. As women continue to make strides in the financial world, their successes elevate their personal lives and inspire the next generation.

At David Lerner Associates, we are committed to supporting this journey and providing the education and resources necessary for every woman to achieve her financial goals and dreams. Together, we can turn challenges into opportunities and pave the way for a future where financial literacy and independence are realities for all women.

Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable– we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

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