Both the media and businesses must not assume that women are any less savvy than men when it comes to managing their finances.
This is the call of a new campaign entitled #MAKEMONEYEQUAL, which is highlighting the everyday sexism in financial articles and communications.
As part of the campaign, Anne Boden, chief executive and founder of Starling Bank, commissioned research which analysed 300 articles from a variety of outlets targeting male and female readers. It found that 65% of writing targeting women portrayed them as excessive spenders, while a third assumed they would be responsible for family support and care.
Women were also assumed to be less economically productive, with close to 90% of articles encouraging them to be thrifty, using their hobbies to generate a token income, and offering advice on how they can reduce household expenditure. The implication is that women are not legitimate earners and that their contribution to a household’s finance should focus on spending less of what a male partner has earned, rather than earning it themselves.
This is in contrast to articles written for a male audience. Men are portrayed as “adept financiers”, with their economic participation focusing on work, productivity and autonomy. In fact, 70% of the material analysed suggested that financial success made them “more of a man”, while half used fear to encourage them to make big investment and purchasing decisions.
The research found that articles rely heavily on stereotyped male aspirations – talking about combat, strength, power, competition and performance. The economic landscape is portrayed as something that can be ‘conquered’ if you are ‘daring enough’ to try.
Commenting on the results, Ms Boden, says that financial inequality isn’t just about pay or investment gaps, it’s about the way financial messages are communicated.
“Money is an issue. Especially if you’re a woman. There are a myriad of factors at play when it comes to being a woman and our finances - but gender inequality doesn’t just start with lower salaries or tokenism in the boardroom. It starts with the way we’re taught. It starts with the way we’re spoken to.”
She adds: “Language is separating us into spenders and earners, into the frivolous and the empowered. That is why Starling Bank is launching #MAKEMONEYEQUAL - a call to every business owner, every news editor, every podcast presenter, every headline writer and copy checker: Let’s talk about money in the same way to everyone. And let’s start now.”