Women still don't like talking about money. Here's how we change that.

When it comes to money, there are still glaring gaps between men and women. 

There's the gender pay gap: as of this year, Australian women continue to earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. 

And there's the disturbing gap in superannuation: on average, Australian women currently retire with $67,000 less than men. 

But there's also another gap that tends to go largely ignored, which can impact women's financial freedom in the long term – and that's the gender gap in financial literacy. 

Research consistently shows that women do not have the same knowledge and awareness as men about finance and men are better able to make significant financial decisions using that knowledge. 

Christina Hobbs previously worked as a financial inclusion expert for the UN and is now the CEO and co-founder of Verve Super. She believes that the financial literacy gap between men and women is reinforced by a lot of women's unwillingness to broach the topic of money with friends. 

"Money has been traditionally, and still is, a taboo amongst women – particularly conversations about wealth-building," Hobbs tells Mamamia

"Those conversations are just things that women naturally don't have and you can look at the research – women are actually more comfortable speaking about sex than they are about money. It's the ultimate taboo topic." 

Hobbs says that women's apprehension to talk and learn about money is a product of entrenched historical norms, as well as continuing sexist attitudes within families. For example, research shows that boys are paid more pocket money than girls and parents tend to talk to boys more about finance and educate them about wealth-building more than girls. 

These differences can then carry over into adulthood where women hold a continued belief that finance 'just isn't for them'. Hobbs said that this lack of financial literacy can become particularly problematic during periods of acute stress, including during a cost-of-living crisis. 


Listen to this episode of What the Finance about buying shares. Article continues after podcast. 

A report released earlier this week, conducted by M&C Saatchi, found that women are feeling more anxious and worried than their male counterparts by cost-of-living pressures. 

Studies have also revealed that women's mental health is being negatively impacted, with 59 per cent of women reporting that cost-of-living pressures are having a negative impact on their mental health. 

The national gender pay gap, and women carrying the mental load of households, have both been identified as key reasons that women are being disproportionately affected by the ongoing crisis. But Hobbs adds that the gap in financial literacy may also be contributing to these statistics, as women are less likely to feel in control of their finances and less able to have constructive conversations about money. 

"We ran a course at the beginning of the year that was really about helping people set themselves up for the year financially. We started that with over 70 per cent reporting that they were feeling financially stressed – and by the end, that had dropped to 20 per cent. 

So, we learned that just by having a plan in place, that can really reduce financial stress as well," Hobbs says. 

As for investments (which women tend to be more conservative in approaching) Hobbs admits that for many, now may not be an appropriate time to invest if people are struggling to meet their day-to-day needs. But she adds that thinking about becoming educated in investments can help to change people's outlook on money and wealth-building for the future. 


"That idea that you don't have to be from a really wealthy, privileged background to get started in investing is something that can actually really inspire people to get their finances in order and start thinking more about how they can manage their money," she says. 

Watch: 5 money lessons your parents taught you that you should probably forget. Article continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia 

As for how people who are struggling with financial literacy can actually take the first steps towards educating themselves, Hobbs suggests looking to podcasts, books, and communities to start to understand money more. 

"I think it's just about starting that investigation, probably as you would if you were starting a wellness exploration or in any other areas of your life, like if you wanted to get fitter or learn a new skill. 

It's just about making that decision and then starting to look at what groups and forums and information is out there to help you build your knowledge, as well as talking to friends about it because many of them might be further ahead than you." 

Elfy Scott is an executive editor at Mamamia. 

Image: Canva. 

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