Bank of America Merrill Lynch


Financial knowledge is power

The hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day was #PressforProgress: progress on closing the wage gap, ending sexual harassment and achieving gender parity in business, in government, and everywhere else that men’s and women’s lives intersect. This annual celebration is designed to recognize the accomplishments of women (and they are many), but also to call attention to the progress that still needs to be made.

Movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and #GirlsWhoCode have gained great visibility this year. Beneath all the headlines and the hashtags are women pursuing their careers, raising their families, and taking control of their finances. They recognize that with financial knowledge comes power—and the freedom to walk away from jobs that don’t pay well and colleagues who harass them; the freedom to invest in companies and candidates that support gender equality.

Women face some unique financial challenges as a result of the wage gap and the fact that they tend to live longer than men and often take years off from work to care for family. Test your knowledge of those challenges by reviewing the questions and answers in the slide show below.

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    Source: The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, American Association of University Women. 2017.

    Women hold two-thirds of the $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the U.S., according to a study by the American Association of University Women.

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    Source: Women, Work, and the State of Wage Inequality, Hired, 2017.

    The wage gap widens with age, due to an accumulated loss of potential raises and promotions, as well as time spent out of the workforce to care for family.

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    Source: Nerd Wallet, 2016.

    But depending on where you live, you could be responsible for any debt taken on during your marriage. Your spouse’s existing debt could also be a roadblock if you apply jointly for a mortgage.

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    Source: Center for American Progress, 2016.

    According to 2016 research conducted by the Center for American Progress, a 26-year-old woman who takes five years off to care for her children could lose $500,000 or more in cumulative wages and retirement benefits over the course of her career. That’s a reduction of at least 19% in lifetime earnings.

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    Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2016.

    Women live five years longer than men, on average. One way that women can boost their income in retirement is to delay the age at which they start taking their Social Security payments.