As women, we’ve been fed lies about money from a young age. We've been told we're bad with money, frivolous spenders, unable to invest or pay off debt. We’ve been shut out of the financial space for far too long, unable to carve a path for ourselves and these financial statistics prove it.
Until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was signed into law in 1974, women couldn’t even apply for a credit card, open a bank account, or take out a mortgage without their husbands' permission. (All the single ladies were essentially out of luck unless they could find a male co-signer.)
Although a lot’s changed since the ‘70s, we’ve still got a long way to go. That’s why we’ve gathered a list of over 70 financial statistics about women you should know. Because money is power for women.
We hope these statistics shed light on where we are today and ignite a fire in your belly to fight for justice until all men and women are on the same financial playing field. (And this is why financial independence for women is our mission here at Clever Girl Finance!).
Financial statistics about the gender pay gap
The gender pay gap affects all women, but it doesn't affect them equally. Here are some financial statistics you need to know:
The gender pay gap starts at childhood — and it fluctuates based on race, education, and number of dependents
- Parents pay boys twice as much allowance as girls. (USA Today)
- Overall, women earn $0.82 for every $1 earned by men. (IWPR)
- Asian women earn $0.87 for every $1 earned by White men. (IWPR)
- White women earn $0.78 for every $1 earned by White men. (IWPR)
- Black women earn $0.63 for every $1 earned by White men. (IWPR)
- Native women earn $0.60 for every $1 earned by White men. (NWLC)
- Hispanic and Latinx women earn $0.55 for every $1 earned by White men. (IWPR)
- Although workers with a bachelor's degree earn almost double those without a degree, the pay gap widens as women and men become more educated. Women with a bachelor's degree earn $0.74 for every $1 earned by men with a bachelor's degree. (Census.gov)
- Mothers earn $0.70 for every $1 earned by fathers. This gap translates to a loss of 1,500 a month or $18,000 annually. (NWLC)
- 30% of single mothers live below the poverty line compared to just 17% of single fathers. (Pew Research)
The gender pay gap stunts lifetime earnings
- Women have to work 42 more days annually to make as much money as men do. (Pew Research)
- Women lose an estimated $590,000 in lifetime earnings over a 40-year period compared to men due to the gender pay gap. (Time)
- The net estimated lifetime earnings for a woman with a high school degree is $870,000 compared to $1.53 million made by a man with a high school degree. (SSA)
- The net estimated lifetime earnings for a woman with a bachelor’s degree is $1.32 million compared to $2.19 million made by a man with a high school degree. (SSA)
- The net estimated lifetime earnings for a woman with a graduate degree is $1.69 million compared to $2.68 million made by a man with a graduate degree. (SSA)
- A woman typically reaches her earnings peak at age 44, while a man hits his peak at age 55. (Payscale)
- A woman’s peak earnings is $66,700 on average, while a man’s peak earnings are $101,200 on average. (Payscale)
Women are also more likely to leave the workforce to care for family, further limiting their lifetime earnings
- 42% of mothers have had to reduce work hours to care for a child or family member, compared to just 28% of fathers. (Pew Research)
- 27% of mothers have had to quit their job to care for a child or family member, compared to just 10% of fathers. (Pew Research)
- More than 75% of long-term caregivers are female. (Caregiver.org)
- Unpaid caregivers typically spend 34.7 hours a week on average caregiving, in addition to their regular jobs. (Caregiver.org)
These financial statistics show that gender pay gap prevents women from shattering glass ceilings
- 4 out of 10 women say they’ve experienced gender discrimination at work. (Pew Research)
- Women ask for raises just as often as men, but women are only granted raises 15% of the time while men are granted raises 20% of the time. (Harvard Business Review)
- Only 29 women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. The other 471 are men. (Catalyst)
- In 2020, only 3% of C-Suite positions were held by women of color, compared to 66% which were held by White men. (McKinsey & Company)
Financial statistics about female entrepreneurship
With the gender wage gap at a standstill, many women have taken matters into their own hands by starting their own businesses. And the results are inspiring:
There are more female entrepreneurs than ever before
- Between 2014 and 2019 there was a 21% increase in women-owned businesses, while all businesses increased by only 9%. (American Express)
- Total employment by women-owned businesses rose 8%, while it only rose 1.8% for all businesses. (American Express)
- Women of color account for 50% of all women-owned businesses as of 2019. (American Express)
- It's estimated that 6.4 million women of color-owned businesses employ nearly 2.4 million people and generate $422.5 billion in revenue. (American Express)
But minority-owned businesses aren't getting the funding they deserve
- There was $424.7 billion raised in venture capital between 2009 and 2017, but only 0.0006% of funds were given to Black women-owned businesses. (Kauffman)
- Less than 47% of financing applications filed by black-owned business owners get approved. (theguardian.com)
Financial statistics about women and debt
Women have more student loan debt, but men have more debt overall. Still, it takes women longer to pay off their debt due to lower salaries and the pay gap. Here are the specifics:
Women hold the most student loan debt in America
- Women hold nearly ⅔ of all student loan debt in the US, even though they only make up 56% of all enrolled students. (AAUW)
- Black women graduate with the most debt — at $37,558 — compared to $31,346 for White women and $29,862 for White men. (AAUW)
- 57% of Black females who graduate college have difficulties repaying their student loans. (AAUW)
- An estimated 86.8% of Black students take out federal loans (at least 50% of whom are women) to attend 4-year colleges while only 59.9% of White students take out loans. (Student Loan Hero)
- Twelve years post-college, White men have paid off 44% of their student loan balance while White women have paid off 28%. (Demos)
- But for Black students, their balances actually increase on average twelve years post-college due to compound interest on their debt. For Black women, their balance grows by an average of 13%. For Black men, it's 11%. (Demos)
Financial statistics that show men carry more debt overall
- Women carry $85,169 in total debt on average, while men carry slightly more — $103,702 — on average. (Experian)
- The average auto loan balance is $17,747 for women compared to $20,645 for men. (Experian)
- The average credit card balance is $6,232 for women compared to $6,357 for men. (Experian)
- The average personal loan balance is $14,780 for women compared to $17,716 for men. (Experian)
- The average home equity line of credit (HELOC) balance is $42,746 for women compared to $47,017 for men. (Experian)
- The average mortgage balance is $192,368 for women compared to $211,034 for men. (Experian)
It's harder for women to get approved for mortgages. And when they do, they pay more for it
- It's harder for women to buy homes than men. (nbcnews.com)
- A woman’s mortgage rate is 0.4% higher on average than a man’s. (Annuity.org)
Financial statistics about the wealth gap
Factors like the pay gap, debt, and systemic racism lead to our next set of financial statistics — the wealth gap. Here's what you need to know:
The wealth gap is wider for Black families
- The median average Black family in the US has approximately $0.10 of wealth for every $1 a White family has. (Brookings)
- Among families with a bachelor's degree or higher, White families have an average net worth of $399,000 and Hispanic or Latinx families have a net worth of $76,500, while Black families only have a net worth of $68,200. (Demos)
- Among families with a high school degree, White families have an average net worth of $94,500 and Hispanic or Latinx families have a net worth of $17,730, while Black families only have an average net worth of $10,910. (Demos)
- In addition to the pay gap, Black people are more likely to financially help older family members, preventing them from accumulating wealth and leaving them more financially vulnerable. (Demos)
Fewer women are saving for retirement
- Less than 70% of women are saving for retirement, compared to 81% of men. (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies)
- Only 39% of women are confident they’ll have enough resources to last 25+ years in retirement, compared to 54% of men. (Willis Towers Watson)
- Men are more likely than women (42% vs. 24%) to put extra money into savings, while women are more likely than men (42% vs. 29%) to use extra money to pay off bills or debt. (Credit Karma)
- Saving for retirement is #1 on a man's list of financial priorities while it's #5 on a woman's list. Women prioritize meeting daily living costs, paying off debts, covering housing costs, and general saving above retirement. (Willis Towers Watson)
- A woman is more likely to list saving for retirement as her #1 financial priority if she doesn't have any kids. (Willis Towers Watson)
And even fewer women are investing in the stock market
- Women invest 40% less than men and if given an extra $1,000 men are 35% more likely to invest it. (Lexingtonlaw.com)
- 40% of men have invested money in the stock market compared to just 22% of women. (Credit Karma)
- There's an investing gap between men and women. And for women who earn $100,000, this investing gap could cost them as much as $1 million over a 30-year period. (Ellevest)
All these factors have women feeling financially strained
- Women are twice as likely as men to associate negative emotions with their finances. (Credit Karma)
- Women are 5x more likely to live paycheck to paycheck than men. (CNBC)
- Women pay 7% more on average for female-marketed goods like razors, tampons, pads, deodorant, shampoo, and more. This "pink tax" adds up to $82,000 or more over a woman's lifetime. (Good House Keeping)
- 60% of women have reported working more than one job to make ends meet, compared to just 32% of men. (Credit Karma)
The silver lining: Promising financial statistics about women
Most of these financial statistics are pretty bleak. There's a pay gap, an investing gap, a wealth gap... it's all clear to see why women feel 100 steps behind when it comes to managing their money. But it’s not all bad, though. Here are some promising financial statistics about women:
Women are good with money when given the chance
- Women give more to charity on average than men. (IUPUI)
- Women spend less on impulse purchases! (cnbc.com)
- Women are better investors than men (when they actually do it). (Warwick Business School)
- Women with higher levels of financial literacy tend to save more, spend more wisely, and invest more than their peers. (Clever Girl Finance)
- Putting away money for their financial goals is the #1 thing that makes women feel more confident and in charge of their futures. (Ellevest)
- Women actually know more than they think they know and just need to build their confidence. (Time.com) -
Women in the Clever Girl Finance community feel more confident about their money than most
Our 2020 Women & Money Report found that:
- 66% of women in the Clever Girl Finance community feel optimistic or extremely optimistic about their future financial well-being.
- 79% of women express financial confidence in their ability to build long-term wealth.
- Over two-thirds of our community (68%) have actively invested for the future in order to build long-term wealth for themselves and their families.
- An overwhelming majority (85.7%) are investing for retirement.
- 48.4% are investing for other long-term goals.
Download your free copy of our Women & Money Report for even more financial statistics.
How to beat the odds & overcome these financial statistics about women
Overcoming the financial challenges we face as women starts with following these three steps:
1. Develop good financial habits
Our habits make or break us. They either move us 1% closer to our goals, or they send us three steps back. That's why evaluating and changing our habits is step #1 to beating the odds. How do you do this, you ask?
Well, first, you have to transform your money mindset and dismantle all those negative thoughts you were taught about money as a child. Because believe it or not, you ARE capable of managing your money. You ARE capable of reaching every big, audacious goal you set for yourself. You ARE worthy of having wealth. You CAN BE a money goddess!
Then, you've got to do some work. This involves creating some goals for where you want to be in life, curbing your spending until it aligns with those goals, and building a budget to keep you on track.
2. Get serious about paying off your debt
Women may have less debt overall than men, but it eats up a larger portion of our take-home pay due to the gender wage gap. That's why if you're serious about joining team #debtfree, you've got to have a plan for how you'll tackle it head-on.
Instead of getting caught up in different pay-off methods, simply build your debt reduction strategy using these five steps.
3. Look for ways to increase your income
We've been raised to believe that it's taboo to talk about money, especially regarding our salaries. But most of the negative financial statistics about women can be traced back to one thing: the gender wage gap.
That's why it's so important to learn how to ask for a raise and negotiate your salary. Talk openly with your friends and colleagues about how much they earn. And if you've got an entrepreneurial spark inside you, start a side hustle or business.
Take your first step here to change these financial statistics about women!
At Clever Girl Finance, we’re committed to helping women achieve financial freedom, break the cycle of generational poverty, and gain financial freedom. One way we do this is through our suite of free courses that teach you how to budget, pay off debt, jumpstart your savings, invest, increase your income, and more!
If you're ready to beat these financial statistics about women, sign up for a course now to start learning. Together, we'll rewrite history.