Financial wins, wonders, and weirdness through the years.

ICYMI, yesterday was International Women’s Day. And financial freedom is an essential part of the fight for women’s rights. We’re always hearing about the gender pay gap, which is not only still a thing, but hasn’t really shrunk much since angsty teens were blasting Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” on their first-gen iPods (women earned 80% of what men did in 2002, compared to 82% in 2022).

But the disparities run deep in policies and societal expectations, which all put more pressure on women when it comes to finances.

Yes, but…

Great strides have been made for equality in personal finance. For example, until the late 1970s, job security wasn’t really a thing for workers who could become pregnant. Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, for instance, employers were allowed to discriminate against pregnant people.

But despite our progress since then, mothers are still penalized in the workforce, bearing the brunt of pay inequality. According to the National Women’s Law Center, mothers typically earned 58 cents to every dollar fathers earned in 2020.

Until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, women couldn’t have credit cards under their own name, either—their husband had to approve the account for women to obtain such a “privilege.” This is despite the fact that, by 1970, 43% of women above the age of 16 participated in the workforce, per the Population Reference Bureau. And earlier in 1963, wage discrimination based on sex became illegal with the Equal Pay Act.

But even to this day, women are less likely to lean on banks to support their financial goals, making up 60% of the unbanked population in the US, according to market research firm Morning Consult.

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So although the exclusion of women is outlawed on paper when it comes to employment opportunities and financial instruments, there’s still a long way to go.

Great expectations

Biased employers and unfair financial institutions aren’t the only factors creating financial gender disparities. According to the World Economic Forum, many studies show that the motherhood penalty is responsible for up to 80% of the gender pay gap. In addition, studies show that women take on three times more care work than men and perform 60% more unpaid labor to the detriment of their careers.

Child and eldercare responsibilities are asymmetrically placed on women. According to a 2020 US Census study, women between the ages of 25 and 44—prime professional advancement years—were three times more likely than men to leave their jobs to take care of children during the pandemic. And this doesn’t account for stay-at-home parents, who are typically women (28% of women stay at home full-time, compared to 7% of men, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative).

A 2022 report by global consultancy McKinsey said this: “Working mothers have always worked a ‘double shift’—a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor.” One in three mothers considered leaving or “downshifting” careers because of Covid-19 and/or burnout, per the report.

The bottom line: Celebrating women one day a year is nice, but we’re hopeful these gaps will continue to close so women can celebrate all year round.—Isabel


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