Decoding The Hashtag That misses The True Power Of Women’s Wallets

I recently stumbled upon the hashtag #girlmath trending on social media. Admittedly, I’m  not always the first to catch onto these trends, but when I did delve deeper, I was left  somewhat disconcerted. 

For those unfamiliar with the concept, let’s start with a video transcript:  

A video (with millions of views) showcases a woman exclaiming, “I bought a top from  Lululemon for USD68 and went to return it as it didn’t fit. What I took in exchange was a  USD58 piece and so they gave me USD10. I just made USD 0 from Lululemon. Now I’m going  to go and spend it on a USD15 breakfast while I tell myself that it only cost USD5” 

Reality check: No, you didn’t earn USD10 from Lululemon, and yes, that breakfast did cost  you the full USD15. 

Another perplexing notion I came across in videos and comments sections was, “If I pay cash,  it is basically free because it won’t affect the money in my bank account” I’m sure many of  us raised our eyebrows at this one. 

Before diving into the heart of the matter, let’s set the record straight: This should not be  termed as ‘math’, and associating it solely with the female gender is problematic for two  major reasons: 

1. It Perpetuates Gender Biases in Spending Habits 

Tagging such logic as “girlmath” does a disservice to women, feeding into the erroneous  notion that only women indulge in frivolous spending that needs imaginative justification. 

Consider this: Deloitte’s global analysis highlighted that men not only splurge as frequently  as women but often spend more in the process – almost 40% more globally on various items. 

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank, commissioned a study on gendered financial language in  the media. An astonishing 65% of financial content targeting women painted them as  excessive spenders. In stark contrast, 70% of male-oriented articles emphasised wealth  creation, thus insinuating wealth building as a man’s domain, while women are predisposed  to squandering.

Furthermore, statistics indicate a significant percentage of women’s spending benefits  family rather than just individual interests, the latter, a trend more pronounced than in men. 

2. It Casts a Shadow on the Empowerment of Women’s Spending 

Let’s be clear: Spending isn’t inherently negative. Remember Marie Kondo’s philosophy? We  ought to keep what genuinely “sparks joy.” Women have the clout of controlling an  impressive USD 31.8 trillion in global spending, and this consumer power is transformative.  It can reshape businesses, industries, and even societies. 

Historically, women have pioneered pivotal movements using this might: from the Fair Trade  Movement of the ’80s to the Slow Fashion Movement in the 2000s. When women channel  the influence from their financial prowess, it has often been for societal betterment. 

Money equates to power, a privilege women have had to tirelessly champion for. By  inadvertently supporting narratives like “girlmath” linked to frivolous spending, we risk  fortifying age-old stereotypes designed to undermine women’s autonomy and authority. 

While it’s essential to approach our financial decisions with mindfulness, let’s not  inadvertently perpetuate misconceptions. We owe it to ourselves (and previous generations  who have worked hard towards financial equality) to redefine and celebrate the true  essence of women’s financial power. 

By Nandini Joshi, Chief Operating Officer at StashAway

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