Why teach girls about money?
The answers to that simple question are numerous, but here are a few:
- End the gender wage gap
- Promote economic empowerment
- Ensure a safe retirement
- Create opportunities throughout life
When girls learn about money, they can learn critical life skills like salary research and negotiation, and the need to maximize their incomes throughout their lives to build wealth and financial independence. They can also learn about investing, and the power of compounding and time. That information can help girls learn to start saving early in their careers, to ensure sufficient funds for retirement. Finally, girls’ financial literacy means a foundation for creating a life with opportunities and choices.
The next important question is, how?
I spoke recently with teachers, heads of school, and other administrators at the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools Global Forum on Girls’ Education, about girls’ financial education. These folks get the “why” of teaching girls about money. But the “how” can be tricky in today’s schools, where the day is already chock full of academic classes, and after school time might already be over-scheduled with sports and other extracurriculars.
First, we talked about the need in these classes, to provide the context of women and money, including the fact that half of the US workforce is women, and 40% of households with children are headed by female breadwinners. But at the same time, women underearn their male counterparts at 79 cents on the dollar, and are twice as likely than men to retire below the poverty line.
We also talked about the knowledge and behavior link, and the need to address socialization and disposition in these classes. Discussion of why girls’ preconceived notions of their value is a critical piece of learning. Experiential activities like salary negotiation simulations, budgeting, and portfolio building, can help with the behavioral aspect of money for young people who do not have the opportunity to manage finances.
Girls’ financial education classes can take place in lot of places. In schools, they can be part of a life skills curriculum, or integrated into a math curriculum. They can also take place after school, or during a club period. Organizations can also sponsor these classes, in the afternoons, weekends or in summer programs.
Teaching girls about money is important, and possible. Let’s make it happen.
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