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What I Told the Crowd at the Women’s March

What I Told the Crowd at the Women’s March

Last weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at the New York City Women’s March.

When I posted a couple of years ago that I had marched, I received an email from a woman who said she didn’t march because she felt that her life was good — and that she has had equal opportunities compared to the men around her. She went on to say that she didn’t like the overtly political nature of the march. (I believe she then let me know that she was closing her Ellevest account.)

On her first point: Same. My life is good. And I feel equal too, on most days.

That’s not why I march.

I march because I recognize something. As hard as I work (I joke that I’m going to give up my apartment and just make it official that I live on an airplane), and as gritty as I think I am — some good part of my success is pure dumb luck.

Accident of birth, accident of my parents believing in me and investing in me, accident of never working for a Les Moonves, accident of having a feminist life partner, accident of getting rejected for some jobs so that I was available for the right job.

I know that I have benefited from financial inequality myself.

So I march. Even if I don’t agree with every sign that’s out there or every speaker on the stage.

I march and speak out to try to give our daughters greater equality than my generation had.

In this year’s march in New York, there was a new focus on practical solutions for reducing inequality. I spoke about the gender wealth gap and what we can do to close it. Karen Cahn spoke to the gender funding gap for entrepreneurs and announced the launch of iFundWomen of Color as part of the iFundWomen crowdfunding platform.

Here’s what I said. For those of you who have been part of this journey together with us at Ellevest, you’ll recognize the themes.

Remarks at the New York Women’s March 2020

Gloria Steinem has said that “We’ll never solve the feminization of power until we solve the masculinity of wealth.”

And, of course, she’s right.

We hear so often that women earn a mere 82 cents to a white man’s dollar … but that’s just the beginning. There’s another stat that’s less often cited, but more meaningful. Women have wealth of only 32 cents to every white man’s dollar. 32 cents. And women of color have far, far less even than that.

It starts with the pay gap, and then you add that women work fewer years than men. That we have more student debt and are charged more on loans. That there’s a pink tax. That we invest less. And on and on.

At an individual level, this matters. As an Ellevest community member said to me: "If you’re not in charge of your own money, you’re not in charge of your own life."

And at a macro level, we will not be fully equal with men until we are financially equal with men.

The gender wealth gap is both a cause and an effect of the power imbalance in this country. It is both a cause and an effect of the #MeToo moment. Not the only cause or effect, but a pretty major one.

What is at the heart of this?

Even today, our society sends us women messages that our money role in the household is budgeting, saving, coupon clipping. And so much money advice is to deprive ourselves of little luxuries … while we talk to men to a much greater degree about the higher-order money activities, like investing.

The money industries (Wall Street, the investing industry, venture capital) have been built by men, for men — and more specifically by white men, for white men. Today, 98% of mutual fund dollars are managed by men (even though the research indicates that women are as good — or better — at this).

And as if the messages weren’t clear enough, the industry symbol is a bull. An actual phallic symbol.

No wonder men get the whole dollar and we’re stuck at 32 cents. Or less.

So what can we do?

Take action.

Change how we divide money responsibilities in our households and change how we talk about money to our children.

Use that same money as power. We direct more than 80% of household spending and — even though we have less than men — control or jointly control $11 trillion of investable assets. Buy from women and minority-owned businesses, and invest in women and minority-owned businesses.

Invest if you’re able to. Putting our money to work, giving ourselves the opportunity to make money, in a society in which money has been a masculine construct, is a means of “subtweeting the patriarchy.”

And that’s something I plan to put on a sign for next year’s march.

Read the original article here.


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