2 Major Financial Biases Women Still Face — and How To Overcome Them

Women have made some notable financial strides in recent years. The 2023 GOBankingRates Women & Money survey found that almost half of women (43%) are actively investing; the majority have neither student loan debt (57%) nor credit card debt (43%); the majority (59%) are solely responsible for financial decisions in their household; and 60% of women are financially independent. But despite their strong financial situation, many people still have certain prejudices when it comes to women and money.

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In this Financially Conscious Woman column, we chat with Kelly Regan, CFP, Vice President and Wealth Advisor at Girard, a division of Univest Wealth, and Anne McCabe, CFP, Managing Director and Partner at Curo Private Wealth about the top financial biases that women face and how they can work to overcome them.

Bias #1: Women shouldn’t be financial decision makers

Despite the fact that 59% of women are solely responsible for their household’s financial decisions, there is still a widespread belief that women should not make money decisions alone.

“The biggest bias women still face when it comes to finance is that the man should make all financial and investment decisions; I see this even in cases where a woman is the breadwinner,” McCabe said. “In the past, women stayed at home to raise children while men worked, giving them the power to make financial decisions. Unfortunately, for many women, this dynamic still exists — regardless of their employment status, higher college graduation rates, and salaries.”

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Women can address this bias in their own relationships or with third parties as they set up their own financial accounts.

“Another bias that women might encounter is [the assumption] that her finances will be pooled with her significant other’s,” Regan said. “For example, it might be assumed that a woman who is willing to open a new bank or investment account has or wants another owner for the account. Today, however, this notion is questioned more regularly.”

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To overcome this assumption, it is important to be confident.

“Explain directly the expected designation of the accounts, the principal or sole owner to communicate with, and any other expectations they might have as a customer,” Regan said. “Make it clear that you’ve done your research and ask for what you want. By giving you more control over communication, it will help you stay away from prejudice.”

Bias #2: Women don’t know that much about investing

The GOBankingRates survey found that less than a quarter of women (24%) cited a lack of knowledge as a barrier to investing. Nevertheless, many people still assume that women have no idea about the subject.

“One common bias I encounter is that women have less knowledge about investing compared to men,” McCabe said.

It’s also safe to assume that women are more risk-averse, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Women tend to be better investors,” McCabe said, “because they take more calculated risks and are less likely to follow trends like cryptocurrencies.”

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The best way for women to overcome this bias is to invest anyway. The easiest way to do this is often through a workplace retirement account, but there are a number of options including money market accounts, individual stocks, index funds, and real estate.

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