FQ (Financial Quotient) – Rose Fres Fausto – Philstar.com
March 8, 2023 | 7:00am
Although there shouldn’t be much of a difference between the genders when preparing for a financially healthy life, a closer look at specific money situations point to some disadvantages resulting in money challenges for women.
Happy Women’s Month (March) and Women’s Day (March 8, 2023)!
What does it take for a woman to have a high FQ? What does it take for her to be good with money and live a financially happy life? Although there shouldn’t be much of a difference between the genders when preparing for a financially healthy life, a closer look at specific money situations point to some disadvantages resulting in money challenges for women.
Think of your friend who is clueless about money matters because she’s used to being taken care of by her husband who just passed away, or your officemate who refuses to face her looming bankruptcy due to huge credit card debts, or your old maid aunt who never worked a day in her life and expects her relatives to take care of her financial needs the way your lolo and lola did, or your teacher in grade school who is now in Hong Kong as a domestic helper sending all her earnings to her children and husband who can’t seem to keep a job, or your favorite tita who still insists on staying in her big house even if she can’t afford to pay for its maintenance anymore.
And I’m talking of smart, competent, and in most cases, even accomplished women who look confident, capable, and fine on the outside but are worried sick about money matters on the inside. There are a lot of them in our midst that we don’t know about, simply because women are good at hiding problems. In fact, some have mastered the skill that they’ve concealed these problems even from themselves, knowingly or unknowingly. You see, they will take care of other people’s problems first, before their own.
Money challenges of women
1. Gender pay gap. Women are paid less than men for similar jobs held. This originates from the roles society assigned to the genders back in the day – the man works outside the home to earn money, while the woman works at home taking care of the household, with no remuneration attached to it. Moreover, education was not available to women before; hence, the first jobs given to them were those not requiring high skills and with lower pay. This was carried on into the modern world such that even if men and women now occupy the same jobs, the gender pay gap persists. Another reason could really be employer preference, higher pay given to males because they will not take maternity and similar leaves. In the US, where 2022 data is available, the gender pay gap is 82 cents to a dollar in favor of men based on Pew Research Center. Note that in 2002, it was 80 cents, showing that it took two decades to improve the inequality by a measly two cents! With this rate of improvement, it will take us 180 more years to close the gap! This is terrible. In the Philippines, a study by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in 2022 shows that women earn 18.4% less than men in digital jobs, indicating a similar disparity to that of the US data.
2. Work interruptions. Because nature designed women to carry the child in pregnancy, and they are generally better-wired to do child-rearing, they take off from work to do this important task for society. On top of the maternity leave (which is now 105 days in the Philippines with an option to extend an additional 30 days without pay, and an additional 15 days for solo mothers), who is the default parent to take a leave when the child needs someone to bring him to the hospital or attend parent-teacher conferences and other activities? It’s the mom! Because of this, most women leave their jobs, put a hold on their career, usually resulting in a disadvantage in terms of earning capacity. Moreover, because of the maternity leave for women, they are often less preferred by employers.
3. Caring for elders. On top of taking care of their own children, women are somewhat expected to take care of their elderly parents, as compared to their male siblings. Again, this may lead to work interruptions and also additional financial burden for the women, especially in families where money is not openly talked about. Since they’re the ones expected to take care of their elderly parents, they may also end up shouldering the related costs if they are not able to discuss the matter openly with other siblings.
4. The challenge of earning more than their husbands. If a man earns way more than his wife, everything and everyone is cool about it, but if it’s the other way around, it may be a source of struggle. Spouses of such women are prone to being unfairly ridiculed as Andres (Under-the-saya) or hen-pecked husbands. Nobody wants this – not the husband, not even the wife, that I suspect, sometimes, some wives are willing to decelerate their career movement just so the husband can catch up! Moreover, in households where the wife is earning more than the husband, she is still the one expected to do the household management that could add stress to her job, something that her male counterpart will never have to worry about.
5. Women live longer than men. In the Philippines the life expectancy of males is 70.2 years while that of females is 74 years, according to World Data. That’s almost four years longer! As women may rejoice about having longer lives, they also have to be concerned that they have to prepare a larger retirement nest egg compared to their male counterparts, from their lower salaries and shorter work periods, a real challenge. Wow! Let’s say that again, “Women have to prepare a larger retirement nest egg, from their lower salaries earned during their shorter work periods!” What a huge challenge!
6. Women are usually left to take care of the children when the marriage ends. In a country where there are no clear-cut policies for child support that are easily implemented, we usually see mothers fending for their children with little or no help from the male parents. Oftentimes, I hear single mothers lament, “I don’t want to have anything to do with him anymore, so I will just take care of my children’s needs!”
7. Women are not confident about investing. Women are good with budgeting. They also have the propensity to save more in terms of percentage to their income. But when it comes to investing, they shy away from it, lacking confidence in actively getting involved in this essential element of FQ.
8. Women are nurturers such that they look after the needs of others first before their own. This altruistic trait is good to society in general but when left unchecked, may bring about trouble to the female population.
These are just some of the money challenges women face that society should openly talk about in order to address the unfavorable situations they are in. Women are the bedrock of our society and it is crucial that they should are empowered in all aspects of life, including their financial well-being. When you empower women, you empower the whole society.
Cheers to High FQ for women all over the world!