Money, power and women.

Money is power*, and women have less of both.  This is an interesting article from the NY Times that explores the money and power gap between men and women.  I talk about this often.  Men have had many centuries to understand their power.  Society, on the other hand, has not done a particularly good job of helping women feel comfortable with this power.  “Girls as they are growing up are not socialized to feel that it’s ok for them to have ambition about creating wealth, not the way it is for little boys.”  I think that there can be a view that liking money is unfeminine in some way.  We really need to change that. A really interesting point that the author makes is around what wealthy women in particular choose to do with their money.  According to the author, many wealthy women view money as a way to help others rather than increase their own profile.  Women tend to give their money to smaller organisations, whereas wealthy philanthropic men are more likely to give where it will increase their influence, such as naming a building or giving to a college.

Something she touches on here, which I think is worth further exploration at some point, is the fact that more and more women are starting to break taboos around money and talk about what they earn (both with other women and men).  This, to me, seems like a really sensible and necessary step that we need to take to close the wage gap.  The fact that no one ever talks about their salary (but we openly talk about sex, religion, race) makes it really hard for anyone to know if a gap even exists.  I have heard from women who only found out that they were making less money than men at the same level as them because they had a male friend at their firm with whom they felt comfortable having that conversation.  This will especially help in places like Cayman where there is no mandatory reporting of salary data.  In the UK, companies with more than 250 employees have to provide authorities with data on how they pay staff by April of this year.  The results that are out so far are not good.  Deloitte have reported that they pay their women staff 43.2% less on average than their male employees (yup, that’s not a typo).

The whole article is well worth a read for everyone, but particularly for mothers and fathers of daughters.  Always the optimist, I see the move women are taking to close pay gaps and put more power in their hands as hugely positive for the world.  If this author is right (and I think she might well be) that women are more inclined to use their wealth to help others and change the world, then we are on a good path.

“The quest of more, bigger, better has taken this planet to a place of unsustainability.  It seems to me that women are making different choices.  And those choices may be healthier for us all.”

*I actually prefer to think of money as being something that can give you power.  It can give you the power to choose.  Money is the tool.  Your success depends upon what you do with it.