Financially Real

Breaking Financial Gender Expectations

Breaking Financial Gender Expectations | www.TheHeavyPurse.comEditor’s Note: Tanya from Eat Laugh Purr is getting Financially Real with us and sharing how gender expectations influenced her money beliefs.

I consider myself to be a modern woman as do most woman today, whatever their age may be. We’ve been taught to think for ourselves, be independent and value our worth. To be #bossy like Beyonce and conquer all. We are also very much a product of gender expectations, which can be in direct conflict with how a modern woman is supposed to act. Our past experiences can color how we see ourselves and our place in this world.

I am also a child of the 80’s. Well, technically the 70’s, but I was young enough that I really don’t recall disco balls and such. I do remember with great fondness my Barbie dolls. I adored my Barbie and spent hours combing her long hair and changing her clothes. She had no voice but in my imagination she did. Eventually, the powers that be decided to give Barbie a real voice. What pearls of wisdom would Barbie tell her eager disciples?

Math Class is Tough

We collectively held our breath to hear …

Yup. “Math class is tough”. And I couldn’t have agreed more. I’m not a numbers girl, even though I am shockingly good at telling you how much 20% off a regular priced item is. Back then, my girl Barbie and I saw eye to eye that day, although unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a lot of outrage.

As there should have been.

Math class is tough for some and easy for others. Whether you love it or hate it, isn’t dependent on whether you have a X or Y chromosome, but lots of young, impressionable girls took her words at face-value.

She gave me a valid reason as to why math bored me senseless and didn’t come naturally to me since it didn’t to my idol either. On the flip side, there were likely many girls who wondered why they enjoyed math and whether they should.

Miss Independence but Not Financially Real

When I was in high school, I better understood the outrage over her ignorant remarks and even though I still thought math class was tough, it was a Tanya thing, not a universal girl thing. After all, I was a modern teenage girl on the cusp on becoming a young adult, ready and eager to take on the world.

I took great pride in the life I created for myself after college. I was financially independent and technically financially free in the sense that I had no debt. Obviously, I needed to work but had the freedom to choose how I wanted to spend my money. Yet I never felt very capable with my money. Smart enough to not get into debt but not able to do much more on my own.

Even worse, I didn’t recognize that I felt this way or the error of such thinking. I just assumed when I eventually meet someone, he would take charge. I’d still have my career being an independent woman and all, but “money stuff” would fall on his shoulders since that was a guy thing.

In 3 Reasons Why I Used to Fail at Achieving Goals, I shared what hindered my goal success previously, but there is another reason why I failed that my feminist-side hid out of shame: I didn’t think I should create goals for myself. It was a waste of time. Those single goals would be void and null when I get married.

Live Today and Adjust Tomorrow, if Needed

It’s unlikely I’m the only one who has unconsciously felt that way. Marriage is a goal of many, but it doesn’t mean you can’t live or set goals for yourself until you find your special somebody. Looking back, I put my life on hold. It took me a long time to see it and more so to even do something about it.

This isn’t a recommendation that we all adopt a YOLO (you only live once) mindset but to know that we also have the right to create a life for ourselves and should not wait for others to do it for us. Or tell us what it should look like without our consent or input.

I know now part of creating a life is owning your financial life and taking responsibility for your money decisions, both good and bad. I still don’t like math and investment talk puts me in a coma, but I do the work and play an active role because I want to live on my terms, knowing I can adjust in the future if goals and circumstances change.

Break Gender Expectations for Your Children

Verizon created a PSA on gender expectations that I love because it shows how easily we inadvertently teach our daughters that there are things they cannot do because they are a girl. It makes me wonder whether some of my fears are real or manufactured.

This happens in lots of areas, including money. I still believe in happily ever after, but I know it doesn’t mean abdicating my financial responsibilities. Girls can be good at math or finance. Boys don’t need to shoulder that responsibility alone.

I’m still in the process of reclaiming my financial power, and it’s my hope that some day kids won’t feel they should excel at a specific skill simply based on gender. That both girls and boys are taught to harness their financial power independently and in relationships because that’s Financially Real.

What gender expectations around money have you fallen prey to? How are you helping your children, both girls and boys, avoid them?

TanyaTanya is a freelance writer, web designer and blogger. You can find her at Eat Laugh Purr where she and her ginger tabby, Max, enjoy simple pleasures every day and at TV Fanatic reviewing Madam Secretary and more. Connect with Tanya on twitter and Pinterest. And please, no judgement on the number of cat pins I have.
March 27, 2015  •  17 Comments  •  Financially Real

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  1. Friday, March 27th, 2015
    OK that commercial seriously makes me cry every time I see it. It was so well done and so true. I love though that there is a conscious shift in gender equality. I'm so like you…I'm bad at math and investment talk bores the crap out of me. You can't force trying to like something…and sometimes we aren't great at certain subjects, but like you I want to live a financially healthy life, so I better get into it as much as I can because there ain't no man coming to save my butt. :)
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      I seriously love that PSA too. I can relate because I definitely grew up in a time where there were things that girls did and boys did. It still exists today but there definitely is more of a shift and acceptance which makes me happy to see. I don't think I'm every going to enjoy math or investments either, but I do like feeling in control of my life and knowing that I'm making good choices versus guesses. I still hope to find Prince Charming but I don't want either to need rescuing, ya know.
  2. Friday, March 27th, 2015
    I like to approach my finances under the assumption that I'll always be single. I strongly believe I won't be, but better to be overprepared than underprepared financially.
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      Agreed! I believe there is someone for everyone too, but you just never know when you'll find one another. So you need to live for yourself, including taking care of yourself financially. It makes me sad because I've lots of friends who stayed in bad marriages because they couldn't financially survive on their own. I don't want that to be me either.
  3. Friday, March 27th, 2015
    That Verizon commercial gets me right in the feels every time! It's funny because I used to despise math in school, and it still isn't a strong point of mine, so a few people around me have commented why I'm even working as a personal finance writer. I share your view that disliking math doesn't mean you can't actively pursue financial goals. Power to all of us! haha
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      I definitely don't think you have to excel at math to be a great financial writer. You have to excel at making what can be a complicated topic understandable in my opinion. But I get the same thing from my friends too. :) And yes, power to all of us!
  4. Friday, March 27th, 2015
    We live a pretty unconventional life, and I hope that by that example we are fighting off any outside influence about gender roles. I have an undergraduate degree in geophysics and a Ph.D. in finance. I am a finance professor and the major breadwinner in the family. My husband works from home and takes care of our homeschooled children while I am gone. Girls can do anything they choose, and both men and women need to find the way they can best work together for a common goal!
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      Sounds like you and your husband are leading by example, Kim! I really think it's important that we break some of those old notions about what boys should do and girls should do. Most basic life skills everyone should learn, including how to handle money.
  5. Friday, March 27th, 2015
    Well I don't have kids but I think both women and men need to be aware of gender expectations when it comes to finances. What's interesting is how this dynamic plays out in couples. There is typically someone who is more "type A" who takes control, and I think more and more today it doesn't matter whether that person is a guy or girl. At my work there are a couple women who definitely took control of their family's finances and their husbands are perfectly okay with it. On the flip side I know many males who take control. Ideally even if 1 person takes control they will also keep the other person involved enough to the point where the other person is able to manage the finances if they need to. At the very least both should be on the same page.
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      It is very interesting to see how financial roles are defined within a couple. And I'm seeing a lot more diversity. When I was younger, it was typically the man who controlled the money, even if the woman paid the bills and bought groceries and such. Now there seems to be more of a partnership, even if one "owns" handling the money, the other partner is fully aware of what is going on and part of the decision-making process, which is good to see. There is still lots of work to be done but sometimes I think that is less about gender expectations and more people still not being comfortable talking about money with each other.
  6. Saturday, March 28th, 2015
    It's really good to know that there are now more women who are braver and setting up good standards not only for other women and kids but also for its counter part gender. We really have, I think, to learn from each other and improve daily. Good post Tanya!
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      Thanks, Jayson! It is really important that both genders become financially literate, because boys shouldn't have to bear that weight alone. Everyone needs to know how to take care of themselves financially by themselves and share their responsibility when they're in a relationship.
  7. Sunday, March 29th, 2015
    I try to be as forward thinking as possible, but surely I was raised in a very conservative household and some of those thoughts still are ingrained in my mindset. I was raised in a family where there were only 'boy boys and girl toys,' 'things girls do and things boys do', and my mom taught me to do household chores while my brother learned how to build/fix things. When I questioned why I had to do the dishes and my brother didn't have to help, I was actually told that I better learn because I'll have to do it for my husband some day!

    Fast forward 15 years, fortunately that behavior made me more angry and empowered than was it taken to heart. Still, the skill set I have left over is 'in the home', and I do need my boyfriend to fix a lot of things if they break in my apartment -- I never learned the skills to do it. Perhaps some of it never took hold as an interest to learn either, because I could just easily look it up and figure it out. Perhaps the roles a lot more ingrained than I think.

    I've always planned my life to be independently financially fit. I would love to have a dual income some day from a practical sense, which would likely be in the form of a spouse, but I hope that I can always take on my own interests financially. The best thing we can do is recognize our own faults in thinking, educate others, and raise the next generation to be better.
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      I was raised in a similar manner, Kayla. It was very much how it was at that time. I remember when I left home and truly became independent, one of my relatives told me that I'd better not wait too long to get married because I'd be too set in my ways. It's probably been about 15 years since that conversation and I'm still not married ,so I guess I'm going to be a handful. And I wouldn't want it any other way!
  8. Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
    I always said I was going to have a job where I never had to do math when I grew up. Now I'm a credit analyst and I do math ALL DAY LONG (and I don't love it). But I have found that I love my own personal finance math. I like to track my debt progress, my savings progress, and balance my budget (unless it looks like it's going to be in the red). Interesting post! Thanks for sharing.
    • Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
      LOL! I always hated math and when I was looking at degrees for college, I did look at how much math was required before selecting my major. :) I do find, like you, the math I do for myself is much more interesting. I guess it is our vested interested in the outcome!
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