pink stilettos for carers and consumers piece

Women and Money – Carers and Consumers

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This piece comes from a speech I gave alongside Catherine Morgan of The Money Panel for international women’s day. We were tasked to talk about women and money, and came up with the “4Cs” – 4 areas that we felt were important to discuss:

  1. Consumerism
  2. Carers
  3. Control
  4. Confidence

Catherine talked about control and confidence, and I spoke about consumerism and carers. We wanted to share the concepts with a wider audience. So let me explain the first of the 4Cs and start off with consumerism. Catherine has published the other 2 Cs on her site here.

1. Consumerism

Women are traditionally, and incorrectly labelled as being spendthrifts. On my recent holiday, I saw a board sign that said, “your husband called, he said you could buy anything in our shop today”. I mean, this kind of attitude is so old fashioned and outdated.

Why is it still happening?

Advertising has a lot to answer for. Not only does it have this negative portrayal that women are frivolous with their money, but they tell us we’re lacking in some way to get us to buy things. Celebrities, reality TV shows, Instagram – its all feeding this insatiable desire to conform and be “part of the club”.

“Wear that perfume and men will find you irresistible”

“buy that bag and you’ll fit in”

In my school, even having the wrong pencil case meant you were an outsider. Needless to say, I was never in the “cool club”.

There is yet more evidence in the money-blogging space. Most blogs directed at women are about spending less, not on how to invest, ask for a pay rise, or actually build wealth.

Change

Thankfully though, there are women challenging conformity. Vivian Westwood and Lady Gaga are two examples that spring to mind from a physical perspective. Reece Witherspoon is changing the face of the film industry to bring about more stories by women, for women.

And myself and Catherine are passionate about changing how women “do” money. It makes good business sense to think about what women want when aiming products and services at them, because currently, very few people are!


P.S. Did you know that I have a course on investing for beginners? If you’ve realised that using the stock market for your own benefit is essential, but you just don’t know how to go about using it, then why not sign up to my 5-day freebie?


Conformity

But there is still some ground to be covered – you only have to look at the popularity of the “selfie” to see that.

Celebrity culture is unfortunately driving our young women and girls to feel inadequate about themselves. The fashion industry is slow to pick up on the actual size of women’s bodies, and what constitutes beauty. In order to try and keep up with this ideal, we’re spending more now, rather than saving or investing for our futures. And it’s not just women who do this, men are just as susceptible to the rigidity of what an “ideal” man looks like too.

Children

Children are also affected by the disparity of the sexes. This article shows that girls toys can be more expensive than boys toys, just because they are coloured pink. Clothing is pink and sparkly, with stupid slogans on them such as “I hate my thighs”, “Daddy’s little princess” or “I only date heros”.

Where are the clothes that teach girls to be the hero in their own story?

Boys too are left with a sense that it they don’t live up to their role as protector, then somehow they’ve failed. Male suicide is sadly more common than we’d like to imagine.

Conscious Spending

Unless we learn to spend our money in a more conscious and deliberate way, encouraging female-empowered ventures, my fear is that we’ll allow our lives to pass us by in the blink of an eye, and all we’ve done through it is worked and shopped based on what we’re fed through the media, never stopping for long enough to really experience life and live to become the best women we can possibly be.

We need to care more about where our money goes and support ventures that support us. 

2. This brings me onto the final C – Carers

Women are exceptional carers. Pretty much from day 1, we are taught to “play nice” and “look after your sister/brother”, “share”. Certainly, these were phrases I heard a lot growing up. But how does this shape the woman from the girl?

We develop into amazing mothers, supportive wives and caring daughters. We sort everybody else out, and then if there’s energy left, we’ll do something for ourselves.

Then the guilt sets in – oh the guilt! How dare we be selfish and do something for us??

It seems unthinkable to not sacrifice ourselves for others. We even do it at work – we don’t want to rock the boat for fear of being seen as the office “bitch”. I’m speaking from experience too – often I’ve backed down in situations in order not to upset someone else, only to upset myself in the process.

Playing “Nice”

How else does playing the “nice” girl affect us?

Our salaries are affected – a recent BBC report looked at the gender pay gap. Women are quite literally earning less than men because they aren’t in positions of authority that command higher salaries. Why is that? Is it a lack of role models in these positions, so we never aspire to them? Is it school, and a lack of encouragement there? Or is it just because we’re factoring in having a family, so picking career choices around this is actually what we’re doing.

Its clearly a complex issue, but it is well documented that girls do better at school than boys, so where is the gap coming from?

Premature Dropout

Talking of pregnancy – women are unfairly affected simply because they are the ones going through the process of growing a small human being inside them. And then, after a woman gives birth, she’s usually the sole carer as well. With 2 weeks of paternity leave only for men, it’s hardly surprising.

Employers could do so much more to support women coming back to work, and there is evidence that it is happening, but its still few and far between. It makes good business sense to help women back into the work place.

Women are also carers of their parents. Studies have shown that male siblings are less likely to be involved, and the role is left to female members of the household.

Add to this a needy, poorly trained husband, and we have a recipe for one seriously stressed out mum! Indeed, one woman could be playing these roles simultaneously.

Its no wonder then that women drop out of employment prematurely, and pick careers to fit around their complex social interactions and caring duties.

Final Thoughts

We’re excellent carers, but then that can also be to our detriment when we allow it to overwhelm us and come before our own needs and wants. Its not selfish to be self-ish!

My sincerest hope therefore, is that future generations of girls get the message that we have to participate in our own rescues and look after our own needs first – because I’m pretty certain that prince charming isn’t coming round any time soon.

Now over to you – what would you like to see put in place to help women back to work after pregnancy? Has anything I have raised today affected you? Would you like to share your story?

Until Next Time,

 

 

 


P.S. Did you know that I have a course on investing for beginners? If you’ve realised that using the stock market for your own benefit is essential, but you just don’t know how to go about using it, then why not sign up to my 5-day freebie?


 

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[…] Nikki beautifully presented her 2 C’s – consumerism and carers. You can read Nikki’s blog here. […]