WTOP Interview: 12 Reasons Women Need to Close the Financial Literacy Gap

Interview Transcript:

Hillary Howard: 5:11. As women strive for equal economic opportunity, one gap continues to persist that could prevent them from securing a promising future with their money. It’s the financial literacy gap.

Shawn Anderson: Well, joining us to talk more about it, Dawn Doebler, co-founder of Her Wealth and senior wealth advisor of The Colony Group in Bethesda. It’s good to have you back, Dawn.

Dawn Doebler: Thanks Shawn.

Shawn: How is financial literacy measured? And why are women continuing to score lower than men?

Dawn: Well, Shawn, I’m speaking at a conference about research showing what we observe, which is there is a gender gap in financial knowledge and I want to credit FINR Investor Education Foundation that conducts the national financial capability study. And a recent article showed that over a 6 year period the gender gap in financial literacy has persisted. This study measures this by posing 5 basic financial questions and tabulates answering successive women and men; and the results show that both millennial and older women underperformed men in answering.

They also found women are more likely than men to register “I don’t know,” answers and that statistic may show women lack confidence, but it also might suggest that men are overconfident about their financial knowledge. And that leads me to wonder how confidence differences may impact dynamics when couples manage their money. One explanation given for the gap, is that men are more likely to receive financial education because that education is provided in the workplace and men are more likely to be employed full time.

Hillary: It also goes back to that old cultural stereotype, doesn’t it Dawn, that women are still trying to break away from?

Dawn: That’s right, Hilary. And I really believe both men and women could benefit from acknowledging the financial gap that does exist. And it also might be helpful to know, that sometimes this arises simply from life circumstances; like if a woman has a spouse that’s more educated in financial matters. So, in our article we give 12 good reasons, it’s a great statistics on why women should be engaged and their finances. I’m going to share 3 of them quickly with you.

  • An easy one that helps, is that it helps us secure ourselves from the unknown. And we’ve talked a lot about the risks to women with the average age of a widow being only 59 years old and 25% of divorces, involving a couple over the age of 50.
  • And listen up to this one; 80% percent of men die married, 80% percent of women die single. So, let that one sink in.
  • Another trend that poses risk, is that beneficiaries can be changed. Sometimes challenges arise from competing needs for assets from an aging woman and the desire to leave a legacy for children from a prior marriage. And remember that even if you have a life estate in a home or life insurance benefit to secure your future, those beneficiaries can be changed often; they don’t need to give you any reason or any notification that they’re changing those beneficiaries.

And the last quick one, is that it is our money. Women are currently in control of 14 trillion of personal wealth. So, we really can’t afford to be disengaged in our finances, especially as we hold more money.

Shawn: Alright, lots of good info. Thanks Dawn.

Hillary: Thanks.

Shawn: Dawn Doebler with The Colony Group in Bethesda, read more at wtop.com, search “Her Wealth”.