Lady justice holding her scales | How to Make Your Own Equal Pay Day

How to Make Your Own Equal Pay Day

Opting out of the system in order to opt into your financial freedom

This year, April 12th is Equal Pay Day 2016. Not really a holiday, per se, Equal Pay Day is the time of year that women's salaries "catch up" to men's. In short, on average, men in the same positions as women make about four months more per year in salary than women. This is commonly referred to as the gender pay gap.

There are all sorts of advice out there about how to solve the gender pay gap issue. One common tactic, as Suzannah Weiss writes for in Bustle , is to "stay in school." That is, to get an MBA.

A couple weeks ago, Robert made a wonderful case for why an MBA is not all it's cracked up to be (see, " Is an MBA Really Worth It?"). Hint: it depends on who you want to be in life, and if rich and independent is in the cards, then no. And it turns out for women, an MBA really isn't worth it.

According to Weiss:

Things look pretty bleak at every level, though, with women making 81 percent of what men earn at the senior level, 83 percent at the mid level, 85 percent at entry level, and 82 percent before they finish their degrees. Based on these numbers, it looks like after they graduate from business school, women can expect to see the gap between their salaries and men's increase more and more as they climb the corporate ladder.

Weiss goes on to report that women have more college and graduate school degrees than men, but still continue to lag behind in wages. As she puts it, "…telling women to 'lean in' and advance in their careers isn't going to erase the sexism they face externally."

The desperate need for true financial education

So, if more traditional education isn't the answer, what is? The answer is simply financial education.

As Fox News reports, according to a new survey by Fidelity:

  • 92% of women want to learn more about financial planning
  • 75% want to learn more about money and investing
  • 83% want to be more involved in their finances
  • 82% are confident in managing day-to-day budgeting

Yet, a recent report by Ipsos shows that "only 13% of Americans say that they were taught about investing in school," and 43% of women report than no one has taught them about investing at all.

What do all these numbers show? There are three conclusions I come up with:

  1. Despite the conventional wisdom, more school in the traditional sense is not helping women achieve more.
  2. Women have a desire for and will only flourish when they have a strong financial education.
  3. They will not get one from an MBA program.

Given this, it's clear that these programs are not worth it for women. Rather they are an opt-in to the status quo.

Taking control of your own financial future is key

Last week, I shared a quote from Oprah that is appropriate here:

I've always had the deep understanding for myself, that if anything was going to move forward in my life, that I was going to have to be responsible for making that happen…You are responsible for your life, and if you're sitting around waiting on somebody to save you, to fix you, to even help you, you are wasting your time because only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward. And the sooner you get that, the sooner your life gets into gear.

Ladies, if you want to understand money and investing better, you're going to have to be the ones who make it happen. School won't do it for you. Your spouse won't do it for you. And your boss certainly won't do it for you. Only you can do it for you.

My challenge to you is to "lean in," but to yourself and your financial education, not the conventional advice that more academic education will free you financially. Once you "lean in" to your full potential and take control of your own financial future in this way, the sky will be the limit.

Original publish date: April 14, 2016

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