Pop quiz: In a 2013 interview in Fortune, Warren Buffett said that:
are key to why America will do so well economically in the future.
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The correct answer is C. He believes women are being underutilized and underpaid and are capable of contributing significantly more to economic growth.
Emphasizing gender differences in cultural upbringing, Buffett declared “The moment I emerged from my mother’s womb…my possibilities dwarfed those of my sisters, for I was a boy!” He mentioned that his parents loved his sisters and him the same, and they had similar IQs and grades. The one major difference between how they were raised was that his parents gave them different “signals” for what success would mean. His sisters were taught that “marrying well” would be a success while he was told that “the world’s opportunities were there for me to seize.”
Buffett is talking about the financial gender gap--the fact even when we equalize educational levels and types of jobs--men make more money than women. Not only is this hurtful on a psychological and cultural level, it inhibits and constrains the growth of our economy. This makes it important then for us to understand the primary causes of this gap so we can develop ways to reduce or eliminate it.
We believe there are at least four major cultural and psychological factors that produce the financial gender gap. We like to use acronyms to help others (and ourselves) to remember important ideas (e.g. see previous blogs about the RAPIDS). LAMB is our acronym for the causes underlying the financial gender gap.
We remember in 1980s, Mattel marketed a Barbie that said “I’m not good in math.” Programming girls to believe they are not good in math shocked and outraged us. Having a young daughter at the time, we spoke out in our classes against Barbie’s programming and encouraged our students to have voice and be assertive. In less than a year, (I’d like to believe we played a small part in their decision) Mattel removed that sentence from Barbie’s vocabulary!
For those who want to help to close the gender gap, we suggest:
If you have any comments, stories or opinions about the gender gap, we would love to hear them. Stay tuned for the next blog which will published very soon and feature gender differences with empathy and how to increase you empathy in one day!