Impact Report: Women and Finance

In September of 2019, the Utah Women and Leadership Project along with the YWCA of Utah brought a group of financial experts together to identify current resources/strengths, challenges, and potential interventions that would help Utah women financially.  What follows are their recommendations organized by category.  See the comprehensive list here.  Clearly, there is much we can do. 

Financial Incentives and Support

  • Need a better hub with women and finance resources and recommend that the State Treasurers Office and the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education (UCFEE) be the convener and hub; it has more credibility than a private entity.
  • The hub should split resources and support into levels of help and make sure there are resources for each situation.
  • Find a way to highlight companies that are doing good things for employees around parental leave, money to pay off loans, and other positive and effective strategies.

Technology Infrastructure

  • Technology can help with trusted information and resources when people are looking for help.
  • As part of financial literacy education in the schools, create assignments that involve the guardians of children.
  • Create and market a hub managed by the Treasurer’s office for the citizenry.
  • Expanding and utilizing You Need a Budget (YNAB).

Creation of Economic Opportunity

  • There is an opportunity to target women who are part of gig economy, side hustle, or remote work and show them how to budget and succeed.
  • Highlight companies that are doing good things for employees around parental leave, helping employees pay off student loans, and other related benefits.
  • We now have the statewide “Women and the Money: conference; there may be a need for a conference for men too.
  • Until women are more involved in leadership positions, serve on boards and educate those already in those positions, change will be slow at best.
  • Find ways to connect women interested in doing the “side hustle” type of work and connect them with the various small business growth centers, including the Women’s Business Center of Utah, where they can receive education on starting and growing a business.

Advocacy and Shaping Attitudes

  • Need to teach people to break out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle, regardless of income level.
  • Teach women about money personality and habits; we skip the “why” and go to the “how” too quickly. This is a critical element.
  • Address the gender socialization factor around talking about finances; start by talking about your dreams and then inspire action.
  • Start conversations about money at younger ages; help influencers know they need to educate early.
  • At least some of the education needs to be tailored to gender and cultural differences; consider adding this to the half credit required class for high school graduation.
  • Empower not just women to understand finances but empower men to share information; they need to understand why it’s important to partner with spouse in managing finances.
  • Tax preparers, accountants, and financial planners can play a role in bringing women into the conversation more, not allowing papers to just be signed but involving both partners in the process.
  • Need to socialize an attitude where household finances is shared.
  • Need employers to be engaged and provide education to employees.
  • People with products (e.g., YNAB) have found that just targeting people who want it, not convincing them they need it, is key; it is not about demographics or income. It tends to be about what they see on W2, whether they got a tax refund or bill, etc.—an event. Need to find that moment of timing when people are looking for this information.
  • Utah needs a strategic public awareness campaign regarding public support for policies like paid leave.
  • Ask Becky Jacobs at Tribune to give gender lens to this issue (e.g., gender differences in ability to pay off debt, highlighting businesses doing good things).

Laws, Policies, Regulations

  • Utah needs regulations on payday lending: usury laws, caps on interest rates, etc. 
  • People coming out of criminal justice system need options other than payday lenders; yet, we can’t just get rid of them without thinking about other options and banking challenges for the highest risk people (e.g., women, seniors).
  • Need a policy to get more small businesses to offer retirement (e.g., similar to 529 plan). People need the vehicle through their employers as there it is 15x more likely than if they have to go out on their own to get it. Needs to be a system in place for people so that it’s automatic for people—a mechanism.
  • Paid leave for workers is needed; Utah has many challenges with childcare and caregiving in general.

Research and Data

  • Need longitudinal look at the effects of mandatory education on students’ lives down the road. 
  • Contact AAUW for state-specific data on challenges that women may experience compared to men in paying off student loan debt.
  • Need to understand why the answer is so different between men and women when asked where they would go for financial information and assistance.

 To learn more about Women and Finance in Utah read the entire impact report. 

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