The financial news is rather bleak, but the future is brighter.

Women’s History Month is nearly over, and there’s really not much to celebrate after reviewing all the financial news released this month and gender equality for women.
This time of year many researchers publish their findings about women on a wide range of topics. Since it’s Women’s History month, they’re more likely to garner mainstream media attention. But when compiled all the financially related surveys, we found women haven’t come as far as we’d all like.

Here are our takeaways from the biggest studies we saw this month…

1. Women More Likely to Become Penniless in Retirement

A study by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), reveals that “women were 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older.” And women in the same age bracket will likely have an income that’s 25 percent less than men.

“This new data is troubling — it shows that a woman’s nest egg is substantially smaller than a man’s and that we’re not making real headway toward closing the retirement gender gap,” said Diane Oakley, who co-authored the report and is the NIRS executive director.

When comparing pensions, men also came out on top. In 2010, men received an average of $17,856 in pension payments when they retired. Women received $12,000. That’s 33 percent less. Other key findings include:

  • “Women age 75 to 79 were three times more likely to fall below the poverty level” compared to men.
  • Women are working longer. Workforce participation for women from 55 to 64 peaked at 61 percent in 2010.
  • Widowed, divorced women, and those over age 70 “rely on Social Security benefits for a majority of their income.”

The study did find one highlight: “Women in the health care, education, and public administration fields, where DB (defined benefits) pension plans are more prevalent, have higher incomes in retirement and lower rates of poverty than in other industries.”

Unfortunately, this highlight reveals the limited job opportunities afforded to women that help them build wealth and retire comfortably compared to men.

2. Nordic Countries Top the List for Women Workers

Pack your bags, ladies. Gender equality in the workplace is sorely lacking here at home. Meanwhile Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland lead the world for a second year in a row, according to The Economist’s glass ceiling index.

The United States ranked 20th out of 29 countries. The index “combines data on higher education, workforce participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs into a single measure.”

The index did not present all bad news for the U.S. Women held the most managerial positions and ranked a respectable ninth place for GMAT exams taken by women. I guess that means women are preparing for a higher education, but a higher education doesn’t necessarily promise them a successful career. Other than that, the glass ceiling here in the States clearly remains intact.

3. Closing the Gender Pay Gap More than 36 Years Early

According to a new report by Accenture, a leading global professional services company, three things must happen for the gender pay gap to close by 2044 in developed markets.

The three things include:

  1. Boosting “digital fluency” = 21 percent pay gap closure
  2. Changing “career strategy” = 9 pay gap closure
  3. Increasing “tech immersion” = 5 percent pay gap closure

They describe digital fluency as the way people utilize “digital technologies to connect, learn and work.” Changing career strategy means women must “aim high, make informed choices and manage their careers proactively.” And increasing tech immersion translates to women gaining “greater technology and stronger digital skills” which will help them progress as fast as men.

“The future workforce must be an equal workforce. The gender pay gap is an economic and competitive imperative that matters to everyone, and we must all take action to create significant opportunities for women and close the gap more quickly,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s North America CEO.

Oh, and one other thing — it’s not all on the women. This will only happen “if business, government and academia provide critical support.” Check out what they say about the “hidden pay gap” between men and women. It’s interesting.

4. Most Women are Pessimistic About Reaching Gender Equality

We’re not just talking about American women, either. This multi-generational survey by Research Now, was conducted in five countries — Brazil, China, India, the UK and the U.S. Generations include millennials, Gen X and baby boomers.
The survey reveals a sad commentary about our world under the section: “Challenges that prevent girls from reaching full potential.” Forty-nine percent of girls said they have trouble reaching their potential because they’re not being heard and from a “lack of respect” by their male counterparts.

Other information gleaned from women in this survey includes:

  • 78 percent of girls and women said  boys and men think they’re better than them.
  • 78 percent believe “women are still not represented in equal numbers in business or politics.”
  • 76 percent say society believes women should “take on responsibilities that it doesn’t expect men to take on.”

Overall, two-thirds of women don’t believe gender equality will occur within five years. If women read the Accenture report we just covered, that number might rise. Here’s another interesting point from this survey: “developing countries are urging girls ‘to take a fearless approach to overcoming their own barriers.'”

We wonder: How much more “fearless” do women have to become?

5. Single Women Face an Unaffordable Housing Market

Good luck buying or renting a place in an urban area if you’re a single woman. A recent study by reveals the shrinking market for all singles, but especially women. And the reasoning makes perfect sense: Women make less money than men.

As a result, “the income gap can potentially translate into a housing gap – making it disproportionately harder for women to afford living alone.” The nine cities that men can afford but women can’t include: Seattle, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Denver, Chicago, Memphis, Fort Worth, Houston and Nashville.

Heading the list for the top 10 least affordable cities for single women to purchase a residence shouldn’t surprise anyone: Manhattan. The study uses the “rule of thumb that no more than 30 percent of monthly income should go to either mortgage payments or rent.” With that in mind, a Manhattan residence would take up 119 percent of a woman’s average monthly income.

Single women won’t find comfort in the rental market either. For “a typical one-bedroom apartment or studio” only two of the 50 cities listed are affordable: Wichita, Kansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Men don’t have it quite as bad: Rent is affordable in 18 cities. Still, so much for cheap rent.

6. Bias Against Women in Technology Fields

In the tech world, everyone doesn’t receive the same treatment. At least that’s what The Future Tech Workforce: Breaking Gender Barriers study found. Wage disparity between men and women, gender bias and a lack of female role models hinder the success of women in technology.

Respondents pinpointed the top five “barriers” women face in the tech field as:

  1. A shortage of mentors — 48 percent
  2. The absence of female role models —  42 percent
  3. “Gender bias in the workplace” — 39 percent
  4. Disparate growth prospects compared to men — 36 percent
  5. Unequal pay for similar skills — 35 percent

“As part of ensuring a greater percentage of women in leadership roles, organizations should deliberately train or groom women, and assign them responsibility over technically challenging assignments,” said Ookeditse Kamau, MBA and IT Internal Auditor. “Organizations should also embrace a culture that does not make women feel like they have to work harder than a man to get the job.”

And even though the industry suffers from “a shortage of skilled technology professionals,” the study found only one in five organizations are dedicating themselves “to hiring and advancing women in tech roles.” It doesn’t sound like the male-dominated tech businesses are listening.

7. Women Over 25 Postponing Pregnancy Plans

Babies can wait. Careers come first. That’s what a new survey by CareerBuilder found. And it’s not even close. A whopping 83 percent of women over 25 are putting off their pregnancy plans and focusing on their careers instead.

The top reason given: Both men and women want to make and save more money so they can take care of their family. “There is a growing trend among today’s workforce — both men and women are waiting to have children until they have reached their professional and financial goals,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

But what they think their earning potentials will be, and what role they’ll play at work greatly differs. Only 20 percent of women believe they’ll earn a six-figure income compared to 44 percent for men. And, unfortunately, 22 percent of women believe they’ll stay at or only earn an entry-level position. Only 10 percent of men think they’ll remain at an entry-level job.

The survey also discovered something interesting about the way men and women view each others salaries. Eighty-two percent of men believe “they make the same salary as their female counterparts.” And 66 percent of women believe they make the same amount as men who work in similar positions. Maybe they haven’t been reading about the gender pay gap.

8. Senior Leadership Roles Have Increased for Women

They haven’t skyrocketed by any means, but for the first time since global accounting group Grant Thorton has run their Women and Business survey, the percentage has reached 25 percent. But in the U.S., the number of women in leadership roles remained static for the last year, at 23 percent.

Eastern Europe leads the world with 38 percent of women in leadership roles. Russia  is “the only country in which every business has a woman on its senior leadership team.” Poland boosted their numbers by six percent to 40 percent of women holding senior roles. The study credits “the legacy of communist principles” in the region, which hold women “as equals.”

The top roles held by women include:

  • Human Resources Director — 23 percent
  • CFO — 19 percent
  • CEO — 12 percent
  • COO — 9 percent
  • CMO — 8 percent
  • Corporate Controller — 8 percent
  • Sales Director — 6 percent

But even with rising numbers, many professionals worry the diversity push for women leaders is faltering. “Pushing forward the agenda of getting women in leadership positions has lost some of its shine. There’s almost a bit of a plateau,” said Degouve De Nuncques, head of Middle East at ACCA, an accountancy professional leader.

But at least the numbers are rising somewhere.

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Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski


Bienkowski is a contributing writer and is the face of's 'By the Numbers' videos.

Career and Business, Family

business, income

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Article last modified on December 26, 2017 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Not Much To Celebrate This Women’s History Month? - AMP.