2008-04-20

Who Wears The Pants Around Here Anyway?

Other than her being smarter, more charismatic, more efficient, and more competitive than I am, my wife and I are of comparable abilities.

So I read with interest when personal-finance blogger Alpha Consumer began her post, “Debunking the Money Myth,” with:

Are women really worse with money than men are?

This question has been hanging over me as personal finance books for women pile up on my desk. There's Suze Orman's Women & Money, Lois Frankel's Nice Girls Don't Get Rich, Jean Chatzky's Make Money, Not Excuses, and David Bach's Smart Women Finish Rich, to name a few.

After all, an affirmative answer to this question would give me all the ammunition I would need to claim an area of superior ability over my wife. This might endure for at least 15 seconds, before she pointed out the inapplicability of any broad generalization to two people—and perhaps doubly so for a gender stereotype applied to us.

You see, we already have some role reversals relative to gender stereotypes. My wife’s a more aggressive driver than I am. She’s less likely than I am to read the instructions for assembly when putting together a piece of furniture, toy, or anything else. And she has, at various times, made more money than me.

Alpha Consumer’s question remained interesting to me, however, because of my increasing involvement in the personal-finance blogosphere. I hadn’t thought much about gender stereotypes in this context—and quite frankly hadn’t been noticing them. Just as a gut-level reaction, it seems to me that women are very active and visible in making comments on personal-finance blogs—and that women are very active and visible as personal-finance bloggers. It’s sort of an indirect and imprecise way of looking at the original question, but I thought I’d look at how well women are doing in personal-finance blogging.

As a first cut, traffic is one obvious way to look at how well a personal-finance blog is doing. For this, I went to FireFinance, which has a periodically updated post, “Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs - Ranked By Traffic!” The post lists out personal-finance blogs in three ranked orders according to the traffic data respectively of Sitemeter, Quantcast, and Compete. I looked at the blogs listed in the top 25 on any of the three lists and counted it if I was able to determine in 30 seconds or less that the blog was written (solely) by a woman.

Pretty scientific, huh?

So if I counted right, there were 13 women-written personal-finance blogs that were ranked in the top 25 on at least one of the three lists. Looking at the individual lists: for Sitemeter, there were 4 women-written personal-finance blogs in the top 10—and 7 among the top 25; for Quantcast, there were 2 among the top 10—and 6 among the top 25; and for Compete, there were 3 among the top 10—and 6 among the top 25.

So women were well-represented, though perhaps less than their composition of the overall world or U.S. populations—and probably less than their composition of bloggers. According to a PEW/Internet 2006 study (PDF), bloggers overall (all subject areas) are made up of 54% men and 46% women.

But there’s a trend line that doesn’t show up from looking only at the current rankings. The FireFinance post was last updated on March 28, 2008. A BlogHer post titled, Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs - How Do Women Rank?, reported on FireFinance’s rankings as of that time—September 12, 2007. And at that time, there were only 2 women-written personal-finance blogs among the top 25.

If you’re keeping score at home, this means that it took only 6½ months for women to go from 2 to around 6-13 (depending on if you look at an individual rankings list or all three at once). That’s a pretty steep and fast-moving trend line.

Other trends? Alpha Consumer observes that women’s income is rising—apparently quite a bit faster than men's:

Women are making more money than ever before. While men between the ages of 25 and 34 have seen their wages decline over the past 25 years, women's wages have risen. In fact, 1 in 3 wives now out-earns her husband.

On top of that, it took me the hard work and digging of ten seconds of Google searching to find the following articles reporting on not one, not two, but three studies indicating women are generally better investors than men:

Some of the conclusions of the articles were that men tended to be overconfident in their own investing skill, which led them to trade more frequently and incur higher trading costs (the chief reason given for them underperforming women) and also to spend less time researching their investments than women.

That’s all fine and good, but it takes more than making a lot of money or being a good investor to be a good personal-finance blogger. I’m a way better blogger than my wife.

She doesn’t blog.


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