65+ Financial Issues Women Face Today

By Ellevest Team

Women are more economically powerful than ever. Yet, we’re stepping into that power weighed down by a financial industry built by men, for men — a space where women’s differences just aren’t taken into account. 

Like how we live longer on average but retire with less, or how we have more career breaks and get paid less. All this means our financial needs are different. Plus, our financial motivations are different. And those aren't widely understood (or taken seriously, go figure). 

So, even though we’re in a historic moment for women and wealth, women are up against a lot

That’s why we’re setting the stage with a realistic look at women’s financial issues today. While all signs point to the Feminization of Wealth (!), we can’t overlook the structural and societal hurdles women still have to navigate in this arena. And neither should you. These financial challenges are all worth knowing, so each of us can use our financial power to make a positive difference for women — and by extension, everyone. Here are 65+ stats that tell some of the story: 

A collage with a woman's face in a circle on a green background with an image of money.

25+ financial issues for women in the workforce

  1. The gender pay gap: Women overall make 84 cents for every dollar men make. And those numbers are even lower for women of color, specifically: Black women make 67 cents, Native American women make 55 cents, Latinas make 57 cents, and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women make anywhere from 52 to 90 cents for every dollar white men make.

  2. Higher education levels make this gender gap wider: The average pay to a man’s dollar for women with at least a bachelor’s degree is 79 cents.  

  3. Women’s pay compared to men’s drops most sharply around the ages 35-44. Men keep climbing for much longer and reach their peak earnings at 55.

  4. The drop in women’s pay coincides with the ages that women are more likely to have children under 18 at home, while fathers of the same ages (35-44) tend to receive higher pay.

  5. Mothers, on average, are paid 74 cents to every dollar paid to fathers.

  6. Due to these gender pay gaps, a 20-year-old women starting full-time, year-round work stands to lose $407,760 over a 40-year career.

  7. Progress toward closing the wage gap has stalled. It was closing rapidly through 1995, but has been relatively flat since.

  8. Nearly 43% more women have a career break listed on their LinkedIn profile than men. The most common reason women take a career break? Full-time parenting.

  9. In the United States, women perform an average of four hours of unpaid work per day compared to men’s two and a half hours. Even when earnings are similar, husbands spend more time on paid work and leisure, while wives devote more time to caregiving and housework.

  10. If American women earned minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for relatives, they'd have made $1.5 trillion in 2019.

  11. Many women don’t rejoin the workforce at all after giving birth. This has been called the “motherhood penalty,” which is responsible for three-quarters of the employment gap between men and women in the United States. 

  12. One in five women say flexibility has helped them stay in their job or avoid reducing their hours, according to one study. 

  13. The US is one of six countries with no national paid parental leave

  14. Fortune 500 companies on average offer twice as much parental leave to mothers as they do to fathers.

  15. One in 10 women in the workforce have a disability, and women with disabilities are significantly poorer than men with disabilities. Partly because they’re more likely to be unemployed, and also because when they do work, they receive considerably lower wages than men with disabilities.

  16. Women report asking for raises as often as men, but get them less often. 59% of men received a raise, while 52% of women did. For every 100 men promoted to a manager level, only 87 women are promoted.

  17. Just 10.4% of the CEOs on the Fortune 500 list are women … and that’s a record high. 

  18. Meanwhile: Companies with more women in board, executive, and senior management roles routinely outperform companies without gender (and other) diversity. One report showed that organizations with at least 30% women in leadership roles are 12x more likely to be in the top 20% for financial performance.

  19. Women leaders are twice as likely as men leaders to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion at work.

  20. Women also make more effective leaders than men in all leadership measures.

  21. Women-only teams pulled in 2.8% of all venture funding in 2023, the lowest tally in four years.

  22. Teams with women and men founders fared better than women-only teams, raising 20% of all funding in 2023.

  23. Black women entrepreneurs typically receive less than 1% of all VC dollars each year.

  24. One study showed that Black business owners who concealed their race obtained 52% more in funding than Black business owners who reported their race.

  25. White business owners are more likely to be fully approved for loans (at 58%), compared to Hispanic (38%), Asian (30%), and Black (20%) business owners.

  26. Nearly 30% of transgender people in the United States aren't in the workforce and are twice as likely as the cisgender population to be unemployed. Transgender adults also reported losing their job at a 50% higher rate than people within the broader LGBTQIA+ community.

15+ financial issues for women and marriage

  1. 94% of women believe they’ll manage their own money at some point in their lives, and 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. Yet, nearly half of women defer to their spouse on money decisions.

  2. Only about 20% of couples make long-term financial decisions together. 

  3. It’s not surprising that nearly half of divorcing or divorced women reported being “met with surprises” during or after the process. 

  4. In another study, over 70% of divorced women and widows said they’d experienced a financial surprise like secret accounts after their marriages had ended.

  5. Women’s finances decrease 41% after divorce — more than twice as much as men’s after divorce. 

  6. When parents get divorced, women usually become the primary caregivers, which tampers a woman’s earning power and increases household costs.

  7. Mothers of younger children remained less likely to participate in the labor force than mothers with older children. In 2022, almost 68% of mothers with children under age 6 participated in the labor force, compared with almost 77% of mothers whose youngest child was age 6 to 17. By contrast, fathers with children under age 6 were more likely to participate in the labor force than those whose youngest child was age 6 to 17 (about 94% versus almost 92%).

  8. Women tend to have more immediate financial priorities: One survey’s results showed that “supporting family” ranked first for women and second to last for men.

  9. Women outlive men on average — yet 72% of divorcing women don’t prioritize saving for retirement. 

  10. In fact, women’s confidence in their financial security dropped to 64% in 2023 from 72% in 2021. 

  11. That changes when a wealth transfer is involved: Research shows that receiving a financial windfall increases women’s confidence 1.8x — from 45% reporting that they’re confident with money, to 81%. And it means that they become more confident about their ability to manage their money than even men are (at 77%).  

  12. 77% of women giving or receiving a financial windfall say they're comfortable talking about money with their families. This holds across generations, upending internalized money taboos.

  13. About one-quarter of women who have received or expect to receive a financial windfall say they're likely or very likely to leave their partner when or if they receive that windfall. That’s ~2x more than women who don’t expect to get a financial windfall. 

  14. Regardless of wealth transfers, other money attitudes are changing, too: 49% of women consider themselves ‌the Chief Financial Officer of their household.

  15. And half of US adults say they're open to signing a prenup, and younger generations in particular.

  16. Research shows that 78% of couples who talk about money every week say they're happy, whereas only 60% who talk about money every few months — and 50% of couples who only talk about money very infrequently — say the same.

25+ financial issues for women and wealth

  1. Wealth disparities start very early in life: Parents pay kids identified as boys twice as much allowance as they do their kids identified as girls.

  2. And it continues in the culture: In one study, 65% of financial articles aimed at women told them that they’re “excessive spenders.” They encouraged women to find bargains and coupons and control splurges. Articles aimed at men told them to dare to invest and spend to increase their power.

  3. Single women own more homes in the US than single men, but single-parent, female-headed families had the lowest homeownership rate of any group in the country.

  4. Women pay more for mortgage loans than men, even though they’re better at paying their mortgages than men.

  5. Women make up 58% of all undergraduate students, but they hold nearly two-thirds of the debt across all educational levels. 

  6. 41% of women undergraduates take out student loans, compared to 35% of male undergraduates, and women take an additional two years on average to pay them off.

  7. Black women graduate with the most debt: almost $38,000, compared to about $31,000 for white women and just under $30,000 for white men.

  8. The average monthly student loan payment for women is $307.

  9. Student borrowers who identify as LGBTQIA+ have an average of $6,000 more in student loan debt than those who don't.

  10. About 59% of women live paycheck to paycheck compared to 41% of men.

  11. And 57% of women don’t have an emergency fund.

  12. All of this (and, tbh, much more) adds up to a gender wealth gap. Here’s how much money women own to a man’s dollar: 32 cents for women overall, one penny for Black women and Latina women.

  13. Transgender adults and cisgender bisexual women in the US are more likely to live in poverty. Furthermore, Black and Latinx transgender adults are more likely to live in poverty than transgender people of any other race. 

  14. The pink tax (being charged more for the same products marketed differently) can cost  women about $1,300 a year.

  15. Asset management firms owned by white males oversee almost 99% of assets under management (AUM) across different asset classes, while firms 50%+ owned by women and/or people of color account for less than 2% of the total AUM.

  16. What’s more, the 25 most common male names globally are associated with overseeing more than 11x the assets under management compared to their women counterparts.

  17. The average woman keeps 70 cents of every dollar in cash (versus investing to build wealth). 

  18. Women only have 70% of the overall retirement income that men do.

  19. About 50% of women ages 55-66 have no personal retirement savings, compared to 47% of men. 

  20. Older women are more likely than men to live below the poverty line.

  21. Despite data that shows women outperform their male counterparts, just 36% of women say they’re investing in general (vs 63% of men).

  22. Seven in 10 women wish they'd started investing their extra savings sooner. 

  23. One survey shows that, of women who do invest, 86% say investing makes them feel powerful.

  24. Even with less money, though, women give more than men do (and in marriage, women socialize their husbands into giving).

  25. Nearly 70% of women say they’ve never met with a financial advisor, compared to just 41% of men.

  26. That’s not surprising considering that our 2023 Fall Financial Power Survey revealed that 0% of women disagreed with the statement: “The financial industry was not built with women in mind.” 

Want to speak to a financial expert who gets it? Book a complimentary 15-minute call with a financial planner on Ellevest’s all-women team, and get the support you need to navigate your best next steps.


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