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Lack of confidence hampers women’s financial literacy, study finds


It has been four years since Fearless girl, a bronze statue commissioned by asset management group State Street Global Advisors, was erected in New York to promote the cause of women in business and finance.

But the young rebel created by sculptor Kristen Visbal – who stands sure-eyed in front of the New York Stock Exchange – still has a long way to go to accomplish her mission.

According to Intrepid Woman: Financial Literacy and Equity Market Participation, a new academic article published on Monday to coincide with International Women’s Day, women are still far from fearless when it comes to fundraising.

A lack of confidence explains a third of the lower levels of financial literacy of women compared to men, concludes the article by an international team of researchers from Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. Real knowledge gaps explain the rest.

“It’s time to turn Fearless Girl into Fearless Woman – everywhere,” said Annamaria Lusardi, founder of the Global Center for Financial Literacy at George Washington University and one of the authors.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the Dutch central bank, interviewed more than 1,500 men and women with three questions on the basics of interest rates, inflation and investment diversification.

The study confirmed previous research that men tended to be more literate than women – in a multiple choice test with two or three options, 75% of men answered all three questions correctly compared to 60% of women.

But the study first quantified that much of the gender gap in financial literacy was due to nervousness: in an earlier version of the test, which offered an additional “I don’t know” option. Women also obtained less than half. , at 29 percent, mainly due to a large number of “don’t know” responses. The men got 58 percent.

“A lot of women think they don’t know,” Lusardi said. “But when you force them to give an answer, they often know it.” Studies in rich and poor countries around the world have shown similar levels of low confidence among women in financial matters.

Researchers believe the ramifications for gender equality are profound. “Particularly in the context of long-term financial decisions such as investing, retirement savings plans, private savings and wealth accumulation, lower levels of trust can be detrimental to women,” concludes the research. “And this effect may be exacerbated because women, on average, have significantly longer life expectancies than men.”

The effect is expected to be amplified by the coronavirus crisis. It is increasingly evident around the world that women’s finances have been disproportionately affected by the socio-economic effects of the pandemic over the past year.

The The UN warned the risk of “losing a generation or more of gains” in gender equality and women’s rights, hampering progress towards closing the gender pay gap.

United Kingdom, studies have shown that women are more likely to work in “closed” sectors with a greater risk of losing their job, and may have picked up the bulk of the babysitting and home education under confinement.

Anti-Brexit activist and head of asset management Gina Miller told the FT’s Money Clinic podcast that she believes women working from home lose financially as a result. “What will this mean for the way you judge the bonuses?” How do you judge the contribution to fee income? There are a lot of questions that flow from that, which I think are extremely worrying. “

One in four women around the world said the pandemic had negatively impacted their careers, according to Fidelity International’s Women and Money study on International Women’s Day.

Almost half of the 6,000 women surveyed expressed concern about their overall financial situation; three in ten have experienced a decline in their personal income in the past year and a quarter said their ability to save and invest has been limited.

According to a new study by Scottish Widows, the average British woman in her twenties is on track to have £ 100,000 ($ 138,000 or € 116,000) less in private retirement savings in retirement than a man of the same age.

The disparity is due to the fact that women are more likely to have lower average incomes, to work part-time and to take time off their paid jobs to care for their families.

The Financial Times sets up a charitable foundation to promote financial literacy in the UK and around the world. For more information contact: [email protected]

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