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13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money

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Thanks to the 35+ comments on the last post, Rob from BankSwitcher (“Switching banks is hard…we make it easier”) was kind enough to re-analyze the data from my survey on gender and money (n=1,167).

Below, you’ll see red highlighting around areas where there are dramatic gender differences. For example:

  • Slide 10: Guess who negotiates their salary more?
  • Slide 12: Indulgences by gender
  • Slide 16: Feelings towards money are dramatically different
  • Slide 19: What personal-finance topics do men vs. women prefer?
  • Slide 25: Absolutely staggering differences in perceptions of equal pay

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57 Comments on "13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money"

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rob rubin
8 years 11 months ago
I’m having fun playing with the results of the survey recently fielded on this blog. And I can see from the comments that many people want to see the results. There’s tons of interesting stuff to analyze, but a word of caution: the sample was “self-selected” and therefore shouldn’t be projected to represent larger populations, such as “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” readers specifically, or an entire gender of the US population. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the results. For example, there are strong differences between genders that will be very interesting to explore. I found… Read more »
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Paul
Paul
8 years 11 months ago

Is there any way to see a bigger version of the slide show? It’s impossible to read.

eROCK
eROCK
8 years 11 months ago

@ Paul

Click on the icon “on SlideShare” and it will take you to the SlideShare page where the slides are more readable.

David Robarts
David Robarts
8 years 11 months ago

Paul: You can click over to SlideShare to see it there. SlideShare has a link to “full” that gave me a nearly full-screen window but still had a small slide (browser compatibility?). I ended up downloading the PowerPoint file from SlideShare and viewing it in NeoOffice (a Max OpenOffice.org port).

Meg
8 years 11 months ago
I love this survey! As a female, I am not surprised by any of the results really. I realize through my interactions with clients and friends that women think about money very differently than men do (like they tend to worry more about having enough, and they are more likely to feel unsure about their abilitiy to manage money). I was very interested to see how women’s priorities are different though–like how they put “travel” at the top of those lists. Great info. I do think the discrepencies in equal pay perceptions are a little surprising. I thought it was… Read more »
Jill F
8 years 11 months ago

Thanks for re-visiting the data and following-up; very interesting these comparisons. Like Meg above, the salary data sparked my surprise.

mike c
mike c
8 years 11 months ago
I still stick to my original assertion several posts ago that some of the questions were worded in a way to direct the survey taker to provide a certain response. I wasn’t very surprised by the gender specific results. One that struck me as funny that I’ll share with my wife because it relates to our own relationship… who stresses more about finances by gender. I always argue that I stress more because I’m the sole breadwinner for the family and it’s my duty to provide financially for the family’s current needs as well as our short and long term… Read more »
jo
jo
8 years 11 months ago
As a mid 20’s person living in sydney i find some of this data isnt applicable here. In terms of earning more/less between genders it is equal from what i’ve experience here – I have in fact been privy (i’m in the recruitment industry) to many cases where an employee that is male earns less than a female for doing more/similar work. The negotiation of salary differs too, I find women wont bring it up in the initial interviewing/hiring process but instead will work for some time and make the most of training opportunities before asking for a raise. I… Read more »
Harri
Harri
8 years 11 months ago
to Meg and numerous others who still think it’s a given that women get unequal pay: this most likely is highly exaggerated, if not outright false. Women do earn less money _on aggregate_. ie. if you take the median pay for women and men, women earn less. This holds true within industries, professions or job functions. But that’s only one part of the story, and not the part that matters within this discussion. The aggregate median pay is a good measure of aggregate median pay (duh), but an entirely wrong measure of existence of discrimination or even inequality. A major… Read more »
kmg
kmg
8 years 11 months ago

@ Harri: How is that “lalala I can’t hear you” working out for you?

Customers Revenge
8 years 11 months ago
I like Harri’s response. I haven’t done any studies, but I am in a professional environment where many women at a similar level to me earn very similar salaries and even higher. I do know women who earn significantly less and I definitely attribute those specific cases to individuals who do not seek out higher paying (and often more demanding) opportunities or who do not take enough of a stand at salary time. One person I know made about 15% less than I though she should, I told her, she took a proper stand and got her 15%. It was… Read more »
Kat
Kat
8 years 11 months ago
I work in a male dominated field, architecture. I don’t work fewer hours than my male colleagues and I am not leaving to pop out a baby. My first job out of college I was offered 6-10k less than males with less work experience than I had. I tried to negotiate my salary. No budging. They were a bunch of good old boys who didn’t feel women should be paid the same. The only reason they like having women around are because we are cute. I worked there for 3 months, until I found another job. I have to fight… Read more »
Harri
Harri
8 years 11 months ago
@ kmg: How’s that ad hominem working out for you? Feel free to actually have an argument next time. @ Customers Revenge and Kat: anecdotal evidence doesn’t equal data. It’s a bit frustrating to debate these issues when every time somebody knows somebody who was discriminated. As if the issue wasn’t contentious enough as it is. There are numerous rigorous studies done on these issues, and few outliers – no matter how personal – doesn’t change the results. I’m not saying there’s no discrimination in wages. I’m sure there is. But it is blown way out of proportion, and when… Read more »
Matt
Matt
8 years 11 months ago
It’s pretty easy to use logic to discard the gender wage gap myth. Let’s assume men and women are equally productive and women do work for less than men of equal productivity. Since compaines want to hire people at the most attractive price in relation to productivity, over time, companies would realise the gap and either a) only hire women or b) force men to lower their wage expectations to that of women. Since this is not happening one of the assumptions must be wrong. Either men and women are not equally productive or there is no wage gap between… Read more »
Cecily
Cecily
8 years 11 months ago
Matt: The two assumptions you listed aren’t the only assumptions in your scenario. Let me list a few more: – That companies can always accurately assess the productivity of their employees, and the potential productivity of job applicants. – That companies, without fail, “want to hire people at the most attractive price in relation to productivity”, and no confounding factors such as nepotism, negotiating skills, subjective assessments of “likability”, “fitting into the culture”, physical attractiveness and so on ever come into play. Both of these assumptions have been shown to be false in studies. Hiring managers are people, and people’s… Read more »
mike c
mike c
8 years 11 months ago

harri said: “A stay-at-home mom produces a much more valuable service to the society than someone working at McDonald’s, although it is not reflected in her pay. Hell, I’d claim she’s more valuable to the society than the average engineer! ”

I say, “As an engineer whose wife is a stay-at-home mom, I couldn’t agree more with this statement.”

Harri
Harri
8 years 11 months ago
Cecily, cogent points and a fresh perspective in your last paragraph, and I agree completely. That is exactly the kind of attitude I’d like to see more of: less finger-pointing, blaming and shaming, and more constructive criticism, creative thinking and looking for win-win solutions. If more men would be more willing to cut work hours – and more women willing to accept a household pay cut -, perhaps we would have healthier families. Too often I read about men who work too much and never play with their kids or spend “quality time” with their wifes. It’s a two-way street,… Read more »
m
m
8 years 11 months ago
There’s quite a lot to dig into to understand the wage gap. Before saying that women *choose* to stay home with children, consider that there may be other factors pushing them into that “choice.” Would women choose to stay if the workplace was less hostile to them? If they were not expected to do the lion’s share of parenting? Would more men stay home or work part-time if the workplace was more flexible and it wasn’t considered unmanly to have a wife who was the primary breadwinner? There are cultural pressures at work here, and this country is particularly bad… Read more »
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[…] an interesting discussion happening in the comments of last week’s post about gender and money. As usual, the […]

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[…] discussion on women and salary happening in the comments section which led me to his post 13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money. Of course, before I could read the comments I had to read what they were commenting […]

April
April
8 years 11 months ago
Just from my own perspective, I did choose a job that doesn’t require hours upon hours of overtime because I value quality of life and family-time more than money, so I identify with much of what has been said. As for salary negotiations, I am 100% guilty of not doing this. In my particular situation, I had wanted to work for the company I’m with now for over two years. One position opened up, but I didn’t get hired, so when the next one opened up, I aggressively pursued it and was offered the job. Unfortunately, I lost that aggression… Read more »
Jill Murray
8 years 11 months ago
“I just don’t know when the appropriate time is to bring it [salary negotiations] up with my employer.” 1- When you are offered the job. You’ll never be in a better negotiation position than up front– all your future raises will stem from this moment, so try to set yourself up well. An employer is NOT going to withdraw an offer because you ask for more. They’ll probably argue with you. You may not get everything you ask for. But maybe you will. 2- If your duties & responsibilities increase, especially if you shift into a management role. You then… Read more »
Meg
8 years 11 months ago
Harri-I wasn’t blaming men (or calling them money hungry) when I asserted that they often make more than equally qualified women. And by equally qualified I mean same work experience, same job, same resume, etc. I do believe the figures are exaggerated–I don’t think the discrepency is that big when you adjust for all factors. But it does exist. As I said, this has been shown to be the case ONE TO FIVE YEARS OUT OF COLLEGE when resumes and work experience are similiar–in the SAME entry level jobs. I wish I knew exactly where I read that so I… Read more »
Harri
Harri
8 years 11 months ago
Meg: A reasonable explanation why entry-level pay for women is lower would be because the _expected_ future productivity of women is lower than men. This is what fewer working hours, more likely to drop out of work force, etc. causes. And you yourself concede as much in your last paragraph. Whether such expectations are “right” is another matter. But such expectations are perfectly rational for the employer. Shareholders demand return on investment, and since men are more likely to produce more, they are valued more. So, in effect the odds are stacked against women from the get-go. If there was… Read more »
SJ
SJ
8 years 11 months ago
Interesting discussion. I make almost twice my husband’s salary, in a more demanding job, at the same institution. However, I do really believe that there is a wage gap, brought on by a combination of women not negotiating and a cultural workplace difference. For more stats, check out http://www.wageproject.org/ In terms of negotiating salary – I tried really hard for more salary when I was hired but didn’t get it – however I did get a promise to work from home one day per week (which in the end wound up as 1 day every other week or so) and… Read more »
April D
April D
8 years 11 months ago
“…as a female there is a strong cultural training not to be too loud about your accomplishments…” I think this is true, and I am by no means a shrinking violet. It’s hard for me to say “I this, I that…” and not say it more like it was a team effort, “we did this.” As a second issue, even if I did ask for a raise, I’m not sure how much. I’ve looked at those salary comparisons online, but honestly, they don’t relate closely enough to use as data. So maybe another part of the problem is that I… Read more »
Peter
Peter
8 years 11 months ago
Meg, you state about the difference in pay: “This [discrepancy] has been proven over and over and is evident from the first year of the first job out of college.”. Perception of “equal work” may be different among women and men because it can be based on a prediction of future career. Even before maternity leave is taken, for example, those who have seen it happen many times or in their own lives can expect that within 5 years of college a portion of young women will get married and maybe have their first child. Some of them will come… Read more »
Jongasm
8 years 11 months ago

According to studies I’ve read in college, women generally get paid less for the “same” work. As time goes on it is starting to become more balanced, but it’s not there yet.

Kent Irwin
8 years 11 months ago
The survey on women and money is very interesting. I thought in this enlighten age we were closer to parity – but boy were we wrong, we discovered: • Earnings Differences: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women working full-time, year-round, earn roughly 74 percent of what men earn • Retirement Differences: A Study by the National Center for Women and Retirement Research at Southampton College of Long Island University found that 58 percent of baby boomer women had saved less than $10,000 in a pension or 401(k) plan, while baby boomer men had saved three times that. •… Read more »
dietdrinkworld.blogspot.com
8 years 11 months ago
As a woman, I think the real problem is that we don’t ask/negotiate for more money when we are hired. After talking with my girlfriends over the years (purely anectdotal evidence) it seems we struggle with feeling we are worth more money and that we can handle the jobs we have. My male friends just don’t seem to think this way; whereas totally competant women will really invest a lot of thoughts into wondering if they can do the job. I am not sure why this is, it is just what my girlfriends and I have noticed over the years.… Read more »
kmg
kmg
8 years 11 months ago
@ Harri, the reason I reacted as I did, which you chose to construe as ad hominem, is that your first comment effectively blames women for wage discrepencies. Subsequent comments, which you yourself recognize as being valid, point out the various social forces at play here. So perhaps instead of asserting that “A major reason for the discrepancy is the fact that women _choose_ jobs which pay less, they _choose_ to work fewer hours, and they _choose_ to get out of the workforce,” thereby placing the blame solely on women who make those “choices” (which I would argue are infrequently… Read more »
Rick
Rick
8 years 11 months ago
I can’t help but comment on this because I’m actually very concerned about my wife’s earnings. I am very more-pay focused. She thinks about money, but thinks more about how to save it rather than make it. I on the other hand don’t care what I spend because I work a job in which I’m very capable of pulling in a little more if needed (we’re fairly financially secure anyhow). She on the other hand has a smaller and more fixed income. But here’s the thing… she’ll have a PHD in 3 months. But how much money she’s going to… Read more »
Rick
Rick
8 years 11 months ago
I’ll throw one more thought out there. Discrimination exists everywhere. It’s very much a world where the strong survive. I’m very young looking for my age (I’m 27 and could easily pass for 20 or younger). It has been a constant struggle. I’m just now overcoming that struggle in terms of pay. It’s very hard to negotiate your pay when you’re constantly referred to as little buddy. And it kills your confidence to be treated as such. I really have no doubt that many women go through this in the workplace. But I’ve also seen strong women. And they all… Read more »
April
April
8 years 11 months ago
“…totally competant women will really invest a lot of thoughts into wondering if they can do the job…” I’ve been guilty of this. I still am some days. “…she thinks about money, but thinks more about how to save it rather than make it.” Also guilty. This discussion has been very enlightening for me. I really hadn’t thought about the fact that I doubt myself when I’m perfectly qualified for the job or that my focus is more on saving than earning. No wonder I don’t negotiate my salary more! (Well, actually, I did do it when I was hired… Read more »
mary
mary
8 years 11 months ago
I guess I am in the minority here- I work with a male co-worker who has the exact same degree that I have (we went to grad school together as a matter or fact). I make roughly 1/3 more than he does because I have additional skill sets that he does not have. Also, my boss is a man. My boss knows that money is the #1 priority to me because I have told him. I have never asked for a raise but have gotten significant ones almost every year- 5k or more. I guess he doesn’t want to lose… Read more »
mike c
mike c
8 years 11 months ago
This topic has been a fun one. Thanks Ramit! QUOTED: “If more men would be more willing to cut work hours – and more women willing to accept a household pay cut -, perhaps we would have healthier families. Too often I read about men who work too much and never play with their kids or spend “quality time” with their wifes.” I couldn’t agree more. Having spent the past few years living in Japan, I’m reminded of the progress that has occurred in the American workplace during my lifetime. Quite often, Americans here compare Japan to how the USA… Read more »
kmg
kmg
8 years 11 months ago
@ mike c: You might enjoy the book The Two Income Trap, co-written by Elizabeth Warren (Harvard Law professor and expert on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about bankruptcy law and empirical studies) and her daughter. The book addresses the idea you describe in your second to last paragraph. It’s an easy read, but insightful. They book looks at what happened in the U.S. once a two-income family became the gold-standard, and looks at where that second income goes and why it feels so necessary now –their data says it’s not primarily a consumer lifestyle, but mostly increased health… Read more »
Harri
Harri
8 years 11 months ago
“As you may have guessed from my previous comment, though, I don’t think there’s anything “post-feminist” about a culture in which the vast majority of all stay-at-home parents are women. Ever wonder why that statistical disparity exists? Until we have men embracing the role of primary at-home child care providers in the same numbers as women (and women are the primary/sole breadwinners just as frequently as men are), we’re not really “post” anything.” I have to call you on that. It’s never going to happen. Hypergamy – the practice of women marrying men of higher social and/or economic status –… Read more »
Justin
Justin
8 years 11 months ago
@kmg: I think the whole 50% thing is a very narrow way of thinking about this. You have no idea what kind of decision making process went into each of those families. You have no idea how many of the men offered, but they decided it was simply better for the women to stay at home in their situation. It’s not 50% you’re looking for. Setting arbitrary number targets is only a good way to fail or create resentment. Which sales person is happier, the one who is told to simply do their best every day or the one that… Read more »
Sara
Sara
8 years 11 months ago
I think “gender equality” is about equal OPPORTUNITY not numbers and percentages regarding salaries and stay-at-home parents. And I think in that sense, we have definitely come a long way since the 1950s. I don’t think there will ever be equal numbers of stay-at-home moms and stay-at-home dads, but I also don’t think that that is what is important. This is anecdotal, but I feel today I have the opportunity to make the same amount of money, have the same types of jobs, go to the same types of grad schools, etc, as a guy my age (and I work… Read more »
kmg
kmg
8 years 11 months ago
Justin, you’re right, I don’t have ay idea what kind of decision making went on in individual families, but you’re asking me to look at the micro level when the rest of this conversation is addressing the macro level. You incorectly assume I’m trying to decree that that half of all SAHPs must be men, and half must be women. I’m not interested in dictating anyone’s choices but my own. However, *at the macro level*, all other things being equal, at we would expect to see roughly the same number of women as men staying home with children. We are… Read more »
Barbara Saunders
8 years 11 months ago
The language of “choice” irks me a little. I agree with those who argue that the wage gap is due, in significant part, to women’s choices rather than to discrimination. I also agree with those who argue that prejudice plays a role in steering women towards lower-paying jobs and fields and in starting negotiations at lower pay rates regardless of an individual woman’s plans. The more fundamental problem — there is no way to safeguard women’s “choice” without a corresponding default position that men DON’T have a choice: Men must remain obligated to play the breadwinner role unless excused from… Read more »
Karen
Karen
8 years 11 months ago
Side note: For those of us who are trained in qualitative data gathering methods, what is described as anecdotal by more statistically oriented folks actually does qualify as data for us, albeit an admitedly different type of data, but useful nonetheless. While familiarity with one’s environment including all ltypes of challenges and discrimination is important, I believe that it is more important to have self-awareness (eg. know what you want to do, why you want to do it) and accept these challenges and figure out ways to overcome them. Changing social environments where men earn more and women less can… Read more »
Sara
Sara
8 years 11 months ago

True, it just irks me that every time a gender/feminism discussion starts, I kind of feel like the discussion doesn’t take into account individual choice and responsibility for actions. Women today have a ton more opportunity and face a lot less prejudice than they did 50 years ago. It is society’s fault more don’t take advantage of the opportunities? When does it become the individual’s responsibility to defy a stereotype?

Cecily
Cecily
8 years 11 months ago
Harri: The practice of hypergamy is about men’s choices as much as women’s, and also speaks to what society values in men as opposed to women. For every female lawyer who would be ashamed to marry a carpenter, there is a male carpenter who is put-off by the thought of a wife who out-earns him. This makes sense when considering what mainstream culture considers to be a “catch” – when talking about men, it means high-status; for women, it means beautiful. Both men and women are after the “catch”. I suspect that, for most people, equal pay for equal work… Read more »
Justin
Justin
8 years 11 months ago
kmg, I notice that the only argument you made against Harri’s is turning his preemptive attack at a common type of response into a personal one. (Anecdotal arguments have a tendency to get on my nerves too.) I can see his post being seen as highly offensive to a statistical feminist, since it’s attacking your base ideology. But that’s certainly no reason to ignore its arguments. Now, let me state that I agree with you 100%, when you say “However, *at the macro level*, all other things being equal, at we would expect to see roughly the same number of… Read more »
kmg
kmg
8 years 11 months ago
Justin, I’ve already tried to engage Harri, and have gained nothing by it (insults? no thanks), so I don’t plan to continue just to edify you. But see Cecily, who said roughly what I would’ve. Also, you’re wrong that that’s the only argument I’ve made to Harri–you apparently missed our exchange upthread, where he decided not to respond when I called him the “choice” language he later backpedalled on. It’s just not worth it anymore. I disagree that women and men have different base drives–you’re not going to find a lot in support for that statement in well-controlled studies, but… Read more »
Harri
Harri
8 years 11 months ago
kmg, the anecdotal evidence pre-emptive strike was not directed at you. I blame the English language for the limited ability to pluralize “you.” And my point about it not being data was meant in the statistical perspective. Obviously anecdotal evidence does have value, just not (much) in the macro level. And any insults you feel that I have directed at you are purely channeling your own prejudices, as I feel I have been very objective. I don’t think I backpedaled on the choice debate. Doesn’t matter. The issue has been quite sufficiently covered by others and I stand by my… Read more »
Cecily
Cecily
8 years 11 months ago
I was wondering how long it would take for evolutionary/biological arguments to enter the discussion. They usually take this form: “Because of (highly speculative and poorly-supported theory x), this is the way things have always been, and the way they always will be.” To me, these arguments are a signal that the person making them is interested in defending the status quo (in this case, women earning less money and doing more unpaid household/childcare work) over social change. Massive societal change that seems to go against evolutionary imperatives has been seen over and over again in human history. Whence the… Read more »
kmg
kmg
8 years 11 months ago
Actually, I tend to believe that the burden of proof rests with those who maintain without analytical support that the way things are and have been is the way things must be in the future–Harri presents for our collective consideration one iteration of one of the greatest fallacies that history has ever known. To Cecily’s list, I would add that the entry of women into professions (and, in fact, the normalization of women working for pay after marriage in any group other than the most socially or economically disempowered social subgroups) is another example of social change subverting what people,… Read more »
g
g
8 years 11 months ago
Choice seems to be popping up a lot here (“women do/don’t have a choice when they leave the workforce”, for example), and, perhaps fittingly, biology has also entered the picture in response. I would like to humbly submit the following mundane hypothesis: women often focus their energy on things that make them attractive to men and men often focus their energy on things that make them attractive to women. From this vantage point, the choices made by both sexes should reflect the values that each sex seeks in the other. To back this up, I’ll quote “The Red Queen: Sex… Read more »
g
g
8 years 11 months ago
Since this is a blog that focuses a lot on entrepreneurship, I’m going to describe a business plan for those who suspect that a wage gap between genders is proof of discrimination. I read on MSNBC that “Women make only 80 percent of the salaries their male peers do one year after college”. At first glance, this is shocking. But if this gap is due to discrimination, and not differences in skill, risk, usefulness of chosen majors, or any other non-discriminatory factor, there is actually a wonderful opportunity here. A startup that chooses to hire only women could save 20%… Read more »
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[…] at IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com, a well-known personal finance blog, conducted a reader survey about gender and money. The results (served up in a 30-page SlideShare presentation) revealed some stunning differences in […]

Mel
Mel
8 years 9 months ago
Ah Harri, you do have your head in the sand. When one person says something, it’s their experience they are relating, when 2 people say the same something, it can be a coincidence. When so many, many people say the same thing, it isn’t a coincidence and it isn’t anecdotal. Beyond the fact that women are not “demonizing” men for the fact that we make less money than they do, there is a shift happening in our culture and it is going to take a while for things to equalize. We aren’t demonizing men for the situation, just refusing to… Read more »
Deb
Deb
8 years 6 months ago
It doesn’t help to ask for more money if you’re a woman. You will be perceived as pushy and aggressive (good in a man, very very bad in a woman). Women can either work for less or not get hired at all, those are the choices the male establishment has allowed them. And by the way, I have read that men lose more work time to alcoholism (anybody know a workaholic man who isn’t also a heavy drinker? I don’t!) than women do to pregnancy. And doesn’t anyone think it’s unfair that women are punished for continuing the species? As… Read more »
Rachel
8 years 3 months ago
Some people choose careers based on how much good they can do in the world (social work, teaching, etc). They worry about money more because they make less. I’m very thankful towards people willing to make those sacrifices. Second, people act like having a child or dropping out of the workforce is a bad thing–as in, it *should* hurt your salary/be a legit reason you are paid less because you took some time off. As a woman, having no children is considered being a good employee in this country–why? Why not allow women (where practical) to telecommute or work part… Read more »
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