How can we boost gender financial equality? American Century’s Joyce Huang shares her thoughts

by | Mar 8, 2024

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As we celebrate International Women’s Day, Joyce Huang, senior client portfolio manager at American Century has been reminding us in this Q&A that things must start a long way back with financial literacy. That’s if we really are to crack the glass ceiling and build a truly diverse and inclusive profession within financial services that we can all be proud of.

Joyce, how important do you think financial literacy is in achieving gender financial equality?  

I believe financial literacy is the foundational building block of achieving financial gender equality. Research has shown that women tend to not participate in something if they don’t feel almost 100% confident that they can do it well. Without a solid foundation and understanding of financial concepts and investing in financial markets that provide a feeling of expertise and confidence, women will lag men in making financial decisions not only at home but also in taking financial industry jobs, especially those that are focused on investing. 

 
 

What do you think could be done to improve financial literacy and education amongst women? 

Starting required financial literacy education at a young age in schools would be an excellent first step so both men and women would enter adulthood on an equal playing field. In addition, I think outreach by the financial industry to dispel myths about working in the financial industry would build a larger pipeline of future female talent. Encouraging women already in the industry, especially in the wealth management sector, to mentor and support college students would also be helpful as women may feel more comfortable learning from other women. This would provide even more financial literacy education for young adults as they entered the workforce and find themselves financially independent for the first time. 

What do you think is holding it back (e.g. lack of confidence, societal expectations, time out of the workforce, etc)?

 
 

I think societal expectations hinder women’s confidence in their analytical skills starting at an early age. If girls grow up with the expectations that they are equally capable of excelling at math, science or economics, more of them will choose to pursue higher education specializing in these fields. By the time most young women start their careers, they don’t dedicate the time to learn about financial literacy if they don’t already know the basics. Without weaving the basics of financial literacy and investing into childhood education, I don’t believe we will see a significant improvement in the gender wage gap. 

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