It started at FinCon. Attendees were very generously gifted copies of The Automatic Millionaire. Unfamiliar with the title but well versed in the Latte Factor, I quickly flipped open the book and scanned the accolades that often fill the first few pages. That’s when I saw it. Smart Women Finish Rich.
Instinctively, I thought of Bic pens for Her. Was it possible that a money guru was essentially repackaging the same money ideas in the equivalent of a pink plastic coating? Maybe, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, I thought. I jumped to the blurbs. Surely, those would set me straight.
Only, they didn’t.
You, a dude, write a book about women without a female coauthor and you can’t even be bothered to ask an actual woman with a name what she thinks of your book?
But David Bach isn’t alone. Far from it. In the sea of money experts, very few women’s voices are amplified the same way men’s voices are. That doesn’t mean women’s stories aren’t told. They are. But, for the most part, we serve as cautionary tales, lessons to be learned, individuals who need to be rescued. Women are the softer side of money.
Not convinced? Let’s go to
the tape the Twitters, shall we?
Hundreds of likes, plenty of shares, and here’s the initial impression that many people had. Here’s an assertive, confident money guy who is privy to insight that most people lack. He’s sharing it with his reader in a one-on-one email and now educating all of his followers. He’s an expert.
But maybe this tweet deserves another look. Maybe it pushes a private exchange into the public in order for him to showcase his expertise. But just because I don’t like someone’s Twitter style doesn’t mean much, right? I mean, come on, Penny. Let’s not get emotional. Think about how many people might not like your style.
You’re right. Not everyone’s personality has to suit mine. What a bland world it would be if we started to police personalities until they all aligned with my frugally-awkward sense of sense. No harm, no foul. He’s assertive, I’m not.
But there’s actually a real foul here. Not only does this tweet fuel an unnecessary fire on Twitter about who lives where and which is a better justification for doing so (SPOILER: live where your money, emotions, and priorities tell you to live). But the take itself is also a flawed financial comparison.
Is it true if his reader had sunk $140,000 in the market, she could have more-than-tripled it into $450,000? Maybe. But unless she paid cash, she never had that kind of money to sink into the market in the first place.
This woman bought a house. In all reality, she likely bought a very small part of a house. Maybe 20% or maybe as little as 3% of one. Whatever the down payment, she likely didn’t have the full $140,000 to invest. So, Ramit, unless you’re teaching your reader to get rich by taking out a six-figure loan to invest with, this comparison just doesn’t work.
Instead of helping a reader celebrate what is actually a perfectly fine financial decision, he’s distorting, distilling down the facts into a sexy soundbyte primed for likes on Twitter. He’s taking a woman who didn’t need rescuing in the first place and Monday morning quarterbacking her, this totally clueless damsel.
And if we aren’t damsels in distress, we’re still not on the same footing. Not even close. Just ask my buddy Dave.
I still don’t care where Dave Ramsey lives. But you had better believe I care about how he treats women. No, I’m not talking about the tweet that got me blocked in which he underscored his very tenuous grasp of the way in which democratic societies are designed to work. I’m talking about the truth bomb that was dropped, in which an employee of his alleged a whole bunch of things, including:
- A maternity leave versus ministry leave policy
- Him boasting about being unwilling to get into elevators alone with women (Someone send him the Bitches Get Riches post about workplace homicides ASAP!)
- The company hosting fashion shows for his employees to help them decide what to wear (spoiler: no leggings)
(If you’re not convinced, here are #thereceipts.)
You’re a private individual who wants to hold views about women that I disagree with? Fine. But if you want to build your fortune on the backs of women by making us the anecdotes in your books and employing practices that systematically keep women from networking and possibly holder higher positions in your company, it is categorically NOT FINE.
And don’t even get me started on Tony Robbins. (Just read this piece from The Atlantic. Roasted, I believe, is the word today’s youth would use.)
Look, it’s not that these people don’t have their money shit together. They do. They have business acumen that I can’t even begin to fathom. I have never met any of these people in real life (and likely never will, especially after this post), and I certainly won’t claim to know them as individuals. But what I do know of their public personas, or the expertise that they—or their publishers, their editors, their community media managers, their interns, or anyone else you might want to pass the buck to—shine the spotlight on, points to a bigger problem the money community has to address when it comes to women and money.
What problem? Oh, Penny. Is this about that gender pay gap again? Lots of people want to dispute the notion of gender pay gaps as proof that women and men are on equal footing. The gender pay gap is apples and oranges. It is no longer relevant in today’s modern, first world societies. It is the result of motherhood, not gender (do I have a 7th-grade health class for you to take, my friend!).
Fine. If you can’t swallow the notion of a gender pay gap, let’s look at something else, something much bigger than that. You can’t possibly look at these stories above and tell me there isn’t an inequality issue when it comes to women and men in the world of finance. An inequality of ideas, of opportunities, of avenues to speak in which your ideas are thoughtfully considered, of spaces to go in which you can ask for help without fearing that you will be turned into a talking point or getting your head patted. It happens all the time.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I know what you’re thinking. Whoa. Where’s Penny going? Is the ultimate conclusion that no man should ever dare to broach the subject of females and finances again?
Of course not.
But what I am asking you to do if you’re a male is to talk with women, to learn from women, to use your platform to amplify our voices, not just hold us up as loveable whatnotodos. If you are running a story that contains quotes from bloggers, how many of them are coming from women? If you’re sitting around a table at work or at a family gathering listening to voices, how many of them are coming from women? If women don’t speak up, invite us in. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
And ladies, we can do better, too. Maybe it’s time to dial down the Dave Ramsey and Tony Robbins noise. Money gods know that we’ve bought enough of their books, downloaded enough of their podcasts, and used enough of their hashtags on social media. There is an entire world of voices that we are very much apart of every day that is every bit as insightful, as quotable, and as deserving of the spotlight as theirs. And if you ever find yourself in financial distress, damsels, remember the only person who is really strong enough to save you is yourself.
Female Money Shoutouts
If you’re thinking about finding more voices from people who rock money and also happen to be female, here’s a very short list from a virtually endless sea of possibility. If you want to help me grow this, drop me a link or 12 below.
And really, I have to give a shoutout to every badass money person who just happens to be female who I follow on Twitter and the millions of other female voices that are more than worthy of being heard.
So Tell Me…What other links can I add to my list of shoutouts? What can we do to make sure that women aren’t just in the personal finance world as damseling needing to be saved?