Avoiding the money gender gap by Gudrun Ravetz

Money is an interesting one. We know the obvious that you need it (whether we like it or not), it can do good but it can lead to all sorts of negative emotions and outcomes. Knowing what is “enough” is subjective especially for the present but what about the future? When trying to work out the day to day money needs from your salary it can seem impossible to consider what you may need when you may happen to retire, because that is ages away, or for any unforeseen event. Never mind thinking about what to put your money in or where, in order to save.

Yet as veterinary professionals we look to the future all the time. If we are in clinic we will discuss long term outcomes of treatments options, we may be looking to our long term career and what that will be – even if we don’t know the answer we are still thinking about the future.

So why is it any different with money? There are multiple answers to that. But what is interesting is there seems to be a gender difference in our dealings with money and how we invest it for the future. There has been a lot of news about gender pay gaps and the lack of gender diversity at senior levels and this is all true for the veterinary profession. In these areas it is important that society plays a collective role. But what about the gendered money gap, for instance the gender gap in investing and pension pots?

There does seem to be a gender gap in pension amounts with men amassing larger pension pots than women. While some of this is due to pay throughout work there is also evidence that women invest less and have less investment growth than men (even if they start with the same amount of money to invest). When looking at reasons for this a lot of the same answers are given (and stereotypes) as for the gender pay gap. There is talk that women have less “confidence” when it comes to investing. The term confidence is a tricky one and confidence is not necessarily innate but more a factor of life experiences so I don’t agree when people say women are “naturally less confident” about investments. But there are other factors identified that are interesting.

Too Conscientious

Being too conscientious. I can identify with this one. The knowledge is there that we need to plan for our financial future but women seem to be more keen to investigate the risks, to plan things more, to do more research. All very sensible until it leads to paralysis. The need to know and understand every factor of what is happening to our money and to reduce the risks to nothing can mean that we don’t end up acting at all. This may be why more women put their money in savings accounts than in any form of investment even with poor rates of interest which mean they end up with less in the pot later on.

Knowing who to trust and trusting them. The financial sector is male dominated and given that people often act if they have a role model it may be a factor that is hindering women to engage more with their finances. When you look at the media portrayal of finances it can often seem off putting or not fitting with your outlook/views/morals/ethics on life and again this can be a reason to “not get involved.” Yet there are some good role models out there and we can always be our own financial role models by sharing our experiences.

Investing for your future

Investing in your financial future and gaining financial intelligence is a sensible long term choice and women need to get involved with their financial futures. Think of it as a clinical patient – we know there is a problem, we take the history and understand the long term goals for the patient (and owner), we do the relevant tests (research) and then we act and importantly keep reviewing to see if things need to change.