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Money: Men v Women

More women know less about investing on average than men, posing a risk for their retirement, new research has suggested.

Women have on average described money as more stressful and themselves as less engaged with the world of finance in the fifth ANZ financial literacy report released on Wednesday.

Across all age groups, women ranked dealing with money as more stressful, and most (60 per cent) said they did not keep abreast of financial news at all, up from 54 per cent in 2011.

The findings pertaining to investing were a “real concern”, said a spokeswoman for consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“It’s a concern because you really do need to understand these issues, particularly around superannuation,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“That’s a clear area where we have more women who are not knowledgeable and don’t get the basics and a clear area where work is needed.”

Women already retire with almost half as much superannuation as men, and one in three have no super at all, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has previously estimated.

Coupled with this, females aged 28-59 reported less financial aspiration, and those who did so were less likely to set a retirement goal and invest in high-interest savings accounts, term deposits and property, the ANZ study found, potentially imperiling their retirement even more.

Gender norms play a part

That said, the report in its entirety reflects more on the structure of society and its generalizations do not reflect on female intelligence or their interest in money, the deputy chair said.

“You’ll find in every category that you’ve got your university-educated women who have a reasonable amount of money and are employed who’ll be just as engaged, knowledgeable and confident as the blokes,” Ms Rickard said.

Social issues such as the gender pay gap may explain the findings, said a consumer advocate.

“I suspect a lot of the differences are driven by the social context,” said Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Gerard Brody.

“Things like the gender wage gap means women earn less money on average than men, which means they have less in superannuation balances, they have less money to even consider investing, impacting their levels of engagement with financial literacy and financial matters,” Mr Brody said.

When the report’s statistics were examined more closely, it was often the poorer and less educated groups who ranked themselves as having the lowest financial literacy, supporting these claims.

“We need to address the gender pay gap and policy frameworks to ensure women have sufficient money to have a decent retirement,” Mr Brody said.

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