Girls & Money: Giving Them the Confidence They Need to Succeed

June 17, 2014

As a father of two daughters, I worry about their confidence.  Confidence affects everything they will do.  Whether its school or dating or their future professional lives, confidence gives them the ability to stand up for what they believe in, say no when they need to, and produce the results needed to succeed in the business world.

Being a finance professional, one of my concerns is that my girls have the knowledge to make sound financial decisions and the confidence to stick with them.

What may be surprising to some is that girls are actually very good at investing; they just need the confidence to do so.

But while confidence may be easy to talk about, it can be a challenge to instill. A survey by the Girl Scouts of the USA's research arm, found that 13 percent of girls felt that men are "better with money than women," a response that mirrored what their parents said. Only half of the girls said they felt confident making financial decisions, and only 21 percent said they felt very confident.

It’s clear the girls want to learn about how to make sound financial decisions.  According to the Girl Scout study, girls expect to have successful careers and be a partner with their spouse when making family decisions.

Women only make up 24% of the workforce in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields, but women seem to be better equipped to making sound financial decisions.  In 2001, Brad Barber, Gallagher professor of finance at the University of California at Davis, co-authored a study titled, "Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence and Common Stock Investment" which found that men traded stocks 50 percent more often than women, yet women’s portfolios tended to outperform men’s.  Again, confidence played a role in decision making.  Men, being overconfident in their abilities, traded more often than women, which tended to hurt their performance.

A May 2011 MassMutual Financial Group study found that 26 percent of women felt confident making their own investment decisions, compared with 44 percent of men.  This natural tendency towards over confidence was reflected in men thinking they knew what they were doing; whereas women generally made more sound investment decisions based off their natural caution.

With that said, how do you build self-confidence in young girls?  Below are a couple simple steps to take in your everyday lives.  

  • You need to be confident in your daily life and decisions.  Our children emulate our behavior.  Show your daughter that you value your health, and you are confident in your appearance.  Show her that you have pride in your work, whether around the office or at home.
  • Encourage your daughter. Whatever her passion is, whatever her interests are, allow her and push her to pursue them.  Let her abilities shine through and acknowledge her efforts and successes.  Show interest in her interests, take a class with her, or learn how to play her favorite sport.  It opens up new conversations and builds a stronger bond between the two of you.
  • Give her responsibility. Chores around the house, taking care of her siblings, helping you with the grocery shopping are all simple starters.  Whatever it is, regardless of how great or small, praise her accomplishments and continue to give her more.

The confidence you build in your daughters will assist them is all aspects of life, whether in school, social interactions, or finance.  Regardless of gender, give them the knowledge and confidence to make researched, informed decisions and the reward will be their future success.

This post was written by Andrew Tauer, a fixed income analyst for Colorado PERA. Would you like to write a guest post for The Dime Colorado? Send us an email at dimecontact@copera.org