Studies show that there is a substantial financial wellness gap between women and men. A brief taken from the 2022 Personal Finance Index1 (P-Fin Index) shows this gap and provides a bit of insight into the differences between men and women.
What we learn is that not only do women have a lower financial literacy score, but women struggle to answer even half of the questions correctly.
Women struggle with every financial category but the largest gap between men and women is in investing. Interestingly, all generations of women lag behind men, and younger women know less than older women.
The brief also pointed out how this lack of financial literacy affects women. When compared to women with high literacy scores, women with low scores were:
- 5 times more likely to have trouble making ends meet
- 3 times more likely to have issues with debt
- 3 times more likely to be unable to deal with a $2,000 financial emergency
- 5 times more likely to spend 10+ hours each week on personal financial matters
Although this may seem like a knowledge issue, recent research findings2 suggest something more is at play.
More Than Knowledge and Skills
Based on the P-Fin Index, it might appear that women just need more financial information, and something as simple as classes should fix the problem. However, the researchers found that lack of financial information only accounts for two-thirds of the problem.
In their study, the researchers had participants answer “The Big 3” financial questions. These three multiple-choice questions include:
1. Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After 5 years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?
A. More than $102
B. Exactly $102
C. Less than $102
D. Do not know
E. Refuse to answer
2. Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% per year and inflation was 2% per year. After 1 year, how much would you be able to buy with the money in this account?
A. More than today
B. Exactly the same
C. Less than today
D. Do not know
E. Refuse to answer
3. Please tell me whether this statement is true or false. “Buying a single company’s stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”
C. Do not know
D. Refuse to answer
When looking at the answers provided, the researchers found that women answered “Do not know” almost twice as often as men.
For example, the results from Question 3 (about investing) show that 55% of women chose “Do not know” compared to just 30% of men. Of those who answered the question, 62% of men chose the correct answer while just 34% of women did.
The researchers then tested again without the “Do not know” option.
Both men and women did better with 82% of men getting the right answer and 73% of women. Without the “Do not know” answer, women, though still behind men, were considerably closer.
However, even without this option, the women stated they did not feel confident about their answers.
The researchers concluded that women, in addition to lacking information, lack confidence. Therefore, financial literacy programs aimed solely at information will not close the gender gap.
How Colleges Can Help
Students come to your campus to learn the skills needed to be successful in life.
One of those skill sets deals with financial literacy – the ability to use the money they have to meet their life goals. Yet, many of your female students will leave your institution without the confidence and knowledge they need to succeed in this area.
The best way to help female students close the financial literacy gender gap is to provide both information and confidence. A holistic student financial wellness program will help.
A game-based student financial wellness program will help even more.
Gamify Your Financial Literacy Program
In a game-based learning environment, students can learn information about financial topics and a whole lot more. This includes understanding financial behaviors, determining why some behaviors are good while others are not productive, and the ability to practice new behaviors.
The right financial wellness program will allow students to explore topics in a way that makes sense to them. These topics will be broken down into manageable chunks and be provided in ways that make sense.
As they learn, they will receive awards, see growth, and track their progress. All of this helps them develop new behaviors and phase out undesirable ones.
As students use the new information in real-world situations, they gain a sense of accomplishment and capability. This, in turn, increases their confidence – just what the researchers say your female students need.
How the iGrad Financial Literacy Platform Can Help
The first thing a student using iGrad will do is take a financial wellness assessment. This assessment helps to personalize the program to meet their needs and provides them with a path to gain mastery and acquire knowledge and skills.
Through videos, articles, tools, calculators, assessments, infographics, and more, students will work on core financial competencies. IGrad’s curriculum includes many modules relevant to students including:
- Financial core competencies like budgeting
- Student loan information
- Student loan snapshot
- FAFSA tutorials
- Scholarship assistance
- Repayment calculators
- Job finding assistance
As your female students learn more about borrowing, saving, insuring, investing, and comprehending risk in a gamified environment, they will feel more confident about that knowledge – and the financial gender gap will shrink.
1 - https://gflec.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/TIAA-Institute-GFLEC_Financial-literacy-among-U.S.-women_Data-Brief_June-2022.pdf?x70470
2 - https://www.marketwatch.com/story/whats-behind-the-financial-literacy-gender-gap-these-academics-both-male-and-female-found-one-answer-11620068977