Busting 5 myths about women and money

When it comes to money, our society fosters a lot of silly stereotypes. One successful businesswoman helps us dismantle some of them.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 11, 2011 5:26PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


A lot of gender stereotypes persist in our culture. How many times have you heard "men think about sex every seven seconds" and "women aren't good at math"?


Evidence abounds that these stereotypes are nothing more than that. Take, for example, Lenore Nolan-Ryan. "I started my own company when I was 18," says Nolan-Ryan, who now runs a self-named cooking school and catering business in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla.  We asked Nolan-Ryan to rebut some stereotypes. Listen to what she said about her own philosophy in this video, and read on for some more myth-mashing.

Now let's go over those myths Stacy Johnson mentioned in more detail:


Women aren't good at business. Maybe this stereotype is a holdover from when female faces in the office belonged to secretaries and phone operators -- you know, 60 years ago.


According to small business advice group SCORE.org, women account "for more than 1/3 of all people involved in entrepreneurial activity," and the number of women-owned businesses is growing at twice the rate of all businesses. Also, according to the National Restaurant Association, women own about half of American restaurants.


But women still have some ground to gain: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2007 women owned 7.8 million businesses and accounted for 28.7% of all businesses nationwide, while men owned 52%. Businesses owned equally by men and women comprised 17% of all businesses.


Women can't invest well. "Women will ask more questions," Nolan-Ryan said. "It's all right if I don't know the answer -- I'll get the best information. You have to leave your ego at the door when it comes to investing." Investment management company Vanguard backs her up: They found that women save more, trade less, and diversify better. Why? "Economists suggest that men tend to overestimate their investing abilities," says Vanguard.

Women spend more than men. While women and shopping has been the fodder of countless jokes, the notion that women spend more money than men is simply not true. Nolan-Ryan says, "I think it's proven that single men spend more money on food and toys than women do." She's right: Single men are the biggest spenders. According to Bundle.com, single men spend 18% more than single women. They also carry slightly more credit card debt.

Men are just as likely as women to make impulse buys, but for some reason the stereotype sticks to women. Sure, they do spend a lot of money as managers of the household, which is why so much advertising targets them.


According to Elizabeth Duke, a member of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve, "Women account for 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions, making 93% of food purchases and 65% of auto purchases." And they're also more likely to be budget-conscious than men and more likely to take advantage of things like sales and coupons.


Women make the same as men. This one's unfortunately not true. According to a recently released study from the White House called Women in America (.pdf file), the average woman's income is only 75% of the average man's. (This doesn't mean, however, that women are necessarily paid less for the same job -- see this recent story from Stacy.)


Why do women bring home less? Nolan-Ryan says, "I don't think money is what always motivates women. It's the passion and the love for what we're doing, and who we're doing it for -- often, the family."


While that may be true for some, there's evidence to suggest that societal prejudice might also play a role in the gender pay gap. A Harvard University study (.pdf file) found that women are less likely than men to ask for a raise -- and can be considered "too aggressive" if they do, whereas it's more acceptable for men to do so. Over a career, this adds up.


By the way, it is getting better, slowly -- in 1979, women's pay was only 62% of what men earned. (See "3 ways to help close the financial gender gap.")


Women are too emotional to manage money effectively. A survey from PNC indicates men are more likely to take more risks on investments than women, and more likely to act impulsively. Also, men are more likely to strive for money for money's sake, while wealth is less of a measure of success to women.


More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:


Mar 12, 2011 7:10AM
My wife of 28 years and I are laughing at some of these hateful war of the sexes comments. Marriage is a beautiful thing! God bless!
Mar 11, 2011 9:44PM
If you believe this article, I've got a orange grove in Antarctica I would like to sell ya
Mar 12, 2011 10:07AM

The thing I'm tired of is the continuing "women are like this and men are like this" when in reality both sexes are a mixture of things.  I've seen women I wouldn't trust with a nickel, women I'd trust with everything I had and women on a continuum in between the extremes. 


Neither sex is this or that.  We're all kinds of things.  All articles, such as this, that work so hard at comparing the sexes do is keep the whole mess going.  I've been married three times.  The first one was a real jerk and, know what, so was I!!.  Now I could mount a real argument as to who was worse but what a waste of time. 


As a male, I have a bit of resentment at every "men are like this or that" article because we're not "this or that".  There are no perfect men and no perfect women. 


Taking one side or the other is far too simplistic and, actually, should offend both sexes. 

Mar 11, 2011 11:37PM

One (1) women making it good does "NOT" constitute the majority, Nor make it a reality for the rest..


Stacy Johnson; Your article is NOT fooling the intelligent readers...

Mar 11, 2011 11:56PM
i think the one should say Women spend more than men on idiotic things. True!!! who the hell needs 600 pairs of shoes?! i've had the same shoes since last summer and guess what, they still work just fine and look pretty good. the other things on this list are pretty stupid except the Women make the same as men. i knew that already, and its the only one that should have been listed really. here's one for the list though, Women have the same chances as men of getting into college. False, women have way more scholarship opportunities to pay for college and are looked on more favorably. or Women and men are equally looked upon by car insurance companies. False again. women pay way less over their lifetime, especially during their early driving careers. no discrimination towards anyone based on gender my ****. and that says the A-word, but pointless censorship still exists too.
Mar 11, 2011 11:49PM

What's a shame here gentlemen is individuals like Stacy Johnson who continuously bash men in this society. It makes me wonder if she even likes men? I agree with No Justice for Men contributor that men are highly discriminated against when it comes to obtaining a decent position whether in college or the workforce. The only reason these women obtain the appealing positions is because they use their sex appeal as an attribute to gain position status. I'm a Chemical professional individual with an IQ above 150 and I can't even find a stable employment position due to being discriminated against in this society. And I have yet as of date never seen a women who can hold a candle to me when it comes to doing my profession. They think they know what they’re doing but believe me they don't! The country is going downhill in a hurry. More clowns attempting to run the show!

Mar 12, 2011 2:01AM
The lame stream media strikes again.  Pandering to women 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year has become a cliche.  The lame stream media NEVER criticizes women, ever, ever, ever.  They save it all for bashing men.  The notion of gender equality is a pathetic, nauseating sham.  The media believes if they 'declare it', it must be true and believed.  Go ahead, ask American men their opinion about these matters.  The result will be diametrically opposed in many, many cases.  If women are so great at money matters, why do they still demand alimony? Because they deserve it?  Yeah, right, heard ya.  The propaganda in America is deafening.  
Mar 11, 2011 9:32PM
Wait, so if they are better in business, invest better, and spend less... doesn't that mean they make more? I'm confuzzled here. Plus you guyz had an article of a woman having trouble living off of $300 something a week when there is many living on less than that.
Mar 12, 2011 12:44PM
According to bundle, single men spend 18% more than single women.
Since single men tend to take women out and pay for drinks etc, doesnt it make sense that theyd spend more money than single women?
Mar 12, 2011 1:06AM

Ah, woman?

Just like the rose,

Pretty and innocent but look out for the thorns,

Some are vicious, will tear the shirt off of mans back

Like a snake, will strike and swallow a man’s wealth

Do not chase after her to reason with 

she will strike again with intentions to cripple


Mar 12, 2011 12:08PM
This article is so full of holes it's invisible.  "Single men are the biggest spenders..." and in the next bullet point, they say men make more money.  If they make more, they'll most likely spend more, duh.  The number of women owned businesses are "growing at twice the rate of all businesses".  I have countless friends who have listed their wives as owners of their business to qualify for government incentives and to access the purchasing departments of giant defense corporations who need minority and female owned companies as suppliers to make sure they aren't discriminating.

Ms. Johnson needs to take a good hard look at her misleading stats.

Mar 11, 2011 10:37PM
Men have to spend 18% more because they need to pay to take these deadbeats out for dinner and drinks (which are expensive) (downfall of having a sex drive, blame god or nature).  Men pay for everything while now women in their 20s make more than men, women are more employed than men (due to discrimination), and more women get into college and graduate than men (again due to discrimination).  There is not an area in our society that does not discriminate against men we even have to pay more for food and drinks (lady's night anyone)
Mar 12, 2011 1:25PM
It says women are not good at math but Americans, as a nation, are not good at math.  Of course, American teachers and its educational system are at the root of the problem.  This country needs to look seriously at how other advanced countries teach math and try to emulate them. 
Mar 12, 2011 12:30AM
Alright, Boys. Lets get one thing straight first. I do not see myself as a feminist what so ever. What I fight for is equal opportunity for all. No, I am not alright with giving the jobs, raises or scholarships to those with a particular heritage or a lack of hanging genitalia but the opportunities for those that work their asses off to prosper and have it come with respect and a matching paycheck. So, gentlemen, put your rulers down for a minute and stop banging on your chest. 

If any of you had read this article in full, you would have started with the title. These are busted myths. Or it would better be described as busted stereotypes. Stereotype, by definition, is one's image of a group which is often too-simple and is therefore a distorted image of the group itself. It seems that because these stereotypes have been beaten into your heads through society's past standards as well as marketing tactics, your eyes glazed over the statics provided in addition to the fact that, while the myths may be, these articles are not generalized. In fact, there are a few very specific aspects of these myths listed that women's nurturing and cautious tendencies seem to supersede compared to men's relentless, competitive nature.

Please reread.

Doug, dig your balls out of your wife's purse. It's fantastic that you're biting your tongue out of what sounds like respect for your wife but doing so isn't ever the best way to express your thoughts. Step back, collect your thoughts and regroup.

No Justice for Men, sounds like you need to work on your dating methods if you're spending so much money with out the results you're looking for. And FYI, Lady's Night is actually to attract men to the establishment. Tricky bastards, I know. Oh, yeah, you should check out the prices of feminine products, bras and make up. It will blow your mind.

Mar 14, 2011 12:07PM
Folks: Stacy is a MAN. He's the guy in the video.
The commenter (Cassandra?) who said she is not a feminist whatsoever (and that's one word, not three, incidentally) said she merely fights for "equal rights for all." That's pretty much the definition of feminism: The idea that you shouldn't have fewer rights just because you're female.
I'm in my 50s and really disappointed that some young women STILL expect men to pay for everything, every time. Come on, ladies, be fair.
And guys: You need to date a less-predatory, less-selfish type of woman. Where are you finding these women?

Mar 12, 2011 1:45PM



Thanks.  I'll be here all week.  Be sure to tip your waitress.



Mar 11, 2011 10:49PM
Anything I truthfully say will get me kicked off this board.  Sort of like being married.  I'll keep my mouth shut and behave so as to live another day.  And just where did I loose my stones?.  At the alter I think.
Mar 18, 2012 8:12PM
Dear CA Moderate.  Please enlighten us, how do other countries teach math?
Mar 12, 2011 11:31PM
Her name is Nolan-Ryan?  Seriously? 
Mar 11, 2011 11:28PM

Hey Fella's, I have my own job, my own house, my own car and my own money.  You can keep your little change.  I am perfectly capable of taking myself out to a steak dinner, and buying pretty things for myself without having to deal with some dude thinking I OWE him a little something at the end of the evening or I'm just using him for...what?  A steak?  A baseball game I have to pretend to like?  You're all the same.  But carry on.  This is amusing.


If you all can't seem to find a woman that doesn't require large amounts of money from YOU to keep her satisfied and coming back, I've got news for you. You're dating ho's Charlie Sheen!  Higher standards will fix that.  And if you're intimidated by a woman because she has more money or education than you, or you think she thinks you're not good enough, then step up your game  instead of whining about it feeling like women don't think you're goode enough.  That's a personal problem. You need to work that out in therapy.   If we didn't think you were worth it, we'd drop you.  Wouldn't you?


Best thing I have found is to keep your money separate and choose potential mates according to whether they have a job and are self-sufficient without you. That goes both ways. And yes, women can handle their own finances.  Save more, spend less, pay your bills, buy it on sale.  It's pretty easy.

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