Women, Men, and Money

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According to this month’s Money Magazine, finances still cause strife in many marriages.

Okay, so this shouldn’t be news to anyone. But what is notable is that the majority of the couples surveyed divide their financial responsibility along very traditional gender lines. Women tend to be responsible for determining daily spending while their husbands plan long-term investments, retirements etc. According to the magazine, dividing duties up this way doesn’t necessarily foster communication:

[M]en and women had dramatically different ideas about who does what with the family finances, and what their partners care about. Husbands were especially clueless, tending to underestimate how much women care about almost every financial issue, from investing and saving for retirement to paying off debt. A hundred years after Freud, and men still don’t know what women want.”

Some other fun facts from the Money survey:

  • Seven out of ten respondents said money causes more fights than sex or even in-laws.
  • Only 27 percent of men think their wives prioritize putting their assets in the “right investments.” In reality, almost half of women responded that they actually do care — almost equaling the percentage of men who say they care.
  • 45 percent of men think it’s important to hoard cash in case of emergencies, while 67 percent of women think it’s vital.
  • In families where the woman is the primary breadwinner, 4 out of 10 wives control most of the investments. This is almost double the number of women who take the reins when the husband is the earner.
  • So what is happening? Are those 67 percent of women hoarding more cash because they have, historically, earned less than men? We hear over and over that women make 76 cents on every dollar earned by men. That statistic is somewhat open to question, partly because it fails to take into account critical differences in education, experience and, other factors that impact earning potential. A man and woman with identical backgrounds, education, and family dynamics will not automatically receive a 24-cents-on-the-dollar difference in pay. Disparity in earnings is a more complicated issue than can be captured in one statistic.

    Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research calls the 76 cent figure “a good measure of inequality, not necessarily a measure of discrimination.” In order to really identify what part of the wage gap is due to direct discrimination, all the other factors like performance, education and market forces need to play into the equation. The bottom line is that discrimination does prevent professional women from rising to equally high paying jobs of stature in the workplace. But the 76 cent figure, by being so sweeping and generic, doesn’t always help clarify the problem of equal pay.

    Go here to see 39 professions where women earn a higher paycheck.

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    We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

    The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

    That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

    And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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