Being a lady has definitely shaped my relationship to money. In this country, historically, women have been legally, socially and literally prevented from having access to money, earning money, owning property, having savings and entering high earning fields. Women have a complicated history to money and it’s hurting us in our current day.
The pay gap between men and women is still very real. A look at this handy chart reveals just how big the disparity is along gender and race lines:
Secondly, women save at a lower rate than men, are less likely to own property, ask for raises and negotiate for deals. Women are taught to be kind and non-confrontational. We are conditioned to put ourselves second and everyone else first. That means we would rather be shorted money we’ve earned or may deserve because we would rather not been seen as ‘pushy’ or ‘demanding’. There are certain words that all women hate to be called. ‘Bossy’ is the one that has current traction in America. Being ‘bossy’ is definitely a bad thing for women. It has a powerful negative connotation behind it. Calling a woman bossy means she was too loud, too demanding, too inflexible.
All of these cultural and social trends and mindsets create a perfect storm for women and money. We make less of it, we don’t get taught to handle it as well and we get demonized for trying to relate to it as men do. Makes for a pretty bad situation.
As a woman currently making peanuts and approaching the other end of my twenties, this situation makes me pretty mad on behalf of myself and women everywhere. As I am working my butt off to make these loan payments and trying to start saving for retirement like a good grown-up, it is infuriating to read things like ‘Women make up 56 percent of workers in the 20 lowest-paid jobs, and just 29 percent of those in the 20 highest-paid jobs…” It is infuriating that women’s pay drops after age 35, while men’s increase. It’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s hurting women across the country.
Not only do women earn less money but the demands on our money is higher. Yes, men, you have historically paid for date night. Guess what? We pay more for our clothes, for the make-up, the hair products, cut, style, color in/of it, for our nails to be done or the polish to do it ourselves, the perfume you compliment, the gas in our car, the car itself. This Forbes article breaks it down for you: everything from dry clean shirts to deodorant cost more for women. Forbes calls it ‘The Woman Tax.” We are charged more at every turn simply for existing.
I personally have stopped buying most products marketed to women. I buy male razors and shaving cream. I get my toothpaste at the dollar store. I don’t wear make-up and I’m on a clothing ban for 2015. This saves me money in the short term but it’s not helping women out in the long term.
This is a larger issue in our world. We are defeating out own people when we force 51% of our population to adhere to a social standard of appearance and then charge them an arm and a leg to get there. It prevents people from spending and turns people off to our ‘free market’ capitalist system.
I encourage you all to write to companies that mark up female products for no reason. I encourage you to write to your lawmakers and urge them towards an Equal Pay bill. I encourage women to get more involved with their own money and to open up the conversation of money to friends and family. Most of all, I encourage you to keep your eyes open to these seemingly invisible inequalities. Don’t let them pass by unnoticed. Draw attention to them and take action. We can change the world and make it more equal today, right now, and for tomorrow.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.