Many women take the lead with managing household finances and many have also increased the amount of money they earn in their careers. In honor of March being Women’s History Month, let’s take a closer look at the history of women, money and the power they've gained over the last few centuries.
While women in the United States began gaining power in the 1700s, it wouldn’t be until the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1800s that women would achieve any significant milestones. In 1848, the Married Woman’s Property Act was passed in New York. The act was subsequently used as a model for other states, all of which passed their own versions by 1900. With this act in place, a woman was no longer liable for her husband’s debts, could now enter contracts on her own, was able to collect rents or receive an inheritance in her own right and could file a lawsuit on her own behalf.
The Twentieth Century
The 1900s brought significant milestones for women and money. In 1938, the federal minimum wage was established as a result of the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, eliminating many pay differences between men and women for hourly jobs. In the 1960s women gained the right to open a bank account. Shortly after, in 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed which was supposed to prohibit credit discrimination on the basis of gender. Before its passage, many banks granted credit cards to women only with their husbands' signatures and outright refused to issue them to unmarried women.
Today and Tomorrow
Today, women have taken the reigns when it comes to managing household finances. According to U.S. News and Money, a survey found that 51 percent of women consider themselves the “CFO” of their household. In addition, 54 percent said that they have either complete or a great deal of responsibility when it comes managing their household's long-term savings and investments. Despite maintaining a dominant role with household finances, 63 percent of women wish they knew more about financial planning and investing.
The next generation of women is particularly eager for greater financial knowledge. The same survey found that the majority of young women are interested in understanding financial concepts on a deeper level, but over half of those women don’t know where to seek out that information. For women who have sought help from a financial advisor, 93 percent said they have established financial goals and are on the right path to a more successful financial foundation.
Lastly, today’s generation of women who take the time to build an in-depth financial knowledge base will see the empowering benefits and will also set the standard for future generations to come.