In my experience, women are more likely to believe we are not good enough, versus the (actually very likely) opposite view that we are exactly as good as we need to be.
If I think about my own life, and the lives of the women around me, I see a recurring theme.
Whether it’s hating on our bodies, being weighed down by mum-guilt, feeling like an impostor at work … there are so many ways we forget our own awesomeness.
Why are we like this? I suspect it has a lot to do with being raised in a patriarchy that profits from our self-doubt. And being surrounded by capitalism, which constantly tells us to buy something to fix a (perceived) flaw.
This applies to the way we think about money as well. It’s easy to believe that we aren’t quite smart or educated or savvy enough to build our wealth the way other people (read: men) do.
But I’m here to tell you sis, you absolutely can.
That’s because building wealth doesn’t require secret or magical knowledge. It’s as simple, and as difficult, as:
1. creating an income stream,
2. spending less than this amount, and
3. doing something productive with the rest of it.
I read a great piece the other day from a finance professor at New York University, on what he tells his (non-finance) friends about investing. One of them is: “The powers of disciplined saving and compounding are underestimated“.
I like the simplicity of this. It says that good habits and the passage of time do a lot of the work for you. (I explain the power of compounding here).
But first of all, let’s unpack some of the reasons you might have internalised self-doubt when it comes to building your wealth. And why it’s time to smash those beliefs with a big fat feminist hammer.
You’ve been conditioned to believe you’re not good with money
From the moment we’re thrust into the world of being a woman, society has some things to tell us about where our value lies. Spoiler alert: it’s not in how much we earn (that’s for men).
Instead, we’re told how we look is very important. So we’d better be out there buying things to make sure we look good! Clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics, injectables, diet shakes – you name it, capitalism is cashing in on it.
And then all that time that we might have spent discussing our financial futures, we are instead comparing diet tips and doing retail therapy.
OK this is a crude generalisation and of course our lives are more complex than that. But you get the picture.
We are marinated in the patriarchy, which doesn’t place importance on women’s wealth, but on our desirability. It requires an active process of education to overcome this and realise that we can totally nail the whole money thing when we put our focus there.
You’ve been mansplained to about investment
Have you ever had to hear from a guy about how awesome his investment strategy is? Why yours is wrong? (Even once you’ve explained you are a finance professional? That’s a whole fucking mood).
A wonderful article in the New York Times last week asked ‘Why Are Men Still Explaining Things to Women?’. It says:
“Mansplaining illuminates a much deeper problem than the bore of patronizing monologues. As Ms. Solnit notes, it “crushes young women into silence” by telling them “that this is not their world.” She adds, “It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.”
So it’s unsurprising that men have made us question our own abilities with money. But just because they say it confidently, doesn’t mean it’s true.
You’ve felt excluded by the male-dominated investment industry
I wrote a popular post raging about this topic a while back, and it remains a particular bugbear of mine. Women are under-represented in most areas of finance and investment. And when they do rise to the top, creepy dudes like Boe Pahari sexually harass them and get promoted to CEO anyway. (Well, after a concerted national campaign by investors, he at least got demoted).
Despite that, there’s actually a bunch of amazing women doing awesome things in investment. I just wrote a media release about a woman who got a Fulbright scholarship to do a PhD in economics at Yale, and is now a senior portfolio manager (which is a big deal job with a big deal salary). She’s my age and made me feel like a total slacker, but no big deal.
So what I want you to know is that just because they aren’t always pushing their way to the stage at industry events, or filling your screens with their insights, doesn’t mean they are absent altogether. There are literally millions of great women in finance – they just tend not to promote themselves with the same ferocity as a middle-aged guy would.
It’s impossible not to take on the social conditioning that surrounds us. But it’s also possible to unpack it and move past it.
I want you to know that you – yes you! – have everything you need to have a successful financial life. The rest comes down to educating, embedding good habits and building your confidence.