You Can Only #MeToo Without Caring When You Are Financially Independent #womenrockmoney

You Can Only #MeToo Without Caring When You Are Financially Independent #womenrockmoney

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Throughout life, I’ve been one of the few token women, if not the only woman, in the room for various things.

When I was 10, I placed in the top 10 of a math competition in my state. I recall being one of two girls in the top 10.

In high school, I represented my school in a quiz-bowl type activity. If memory serves, that had a 25 percent female ratio.

In college, one of my majors was computer science. I remember our first class had an even split between women and men. As I took the more difficult required courses for the major, I noticed that fewer and fewer women were in them. The last few courses I remember the split being 20 percent female and 80 percent male.

I never realized I was in the minority gender until the media began reporting on low STEM numbers for females. Suddenly a lightbulb switched on. Maybe it’s a mark of my ignorance that I managed to make it this far.

On the bright side, I’m really thankful to organizations like the Grace Hopper Conference (all female CS) who allowed me to attend on a scholarship, and the many finance organizations that had special women’s only events.

#MeToo

In high school, college, and real-life work I’ve dealt with unsavory characters. I’ve never said posted #metoo in public or actually anywhere, because in a male dominated field, you don’t want to come across as “whiny” or “hard to work with”, and I’m guessing that’s what would be said if I ever opened my mouth with a #MeToo. I’m only posting it here because this blog is anonymous. My solution? I’ve just learned to try and avoid the unsavory characters. Nothing good happens to those who speak out in the industry.

I applaud all the women who are able to speak out. You’ll notice that most of the ones who’ve initially come out in public with their names and faces attached to their stories are financially independent. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I, along with many of the females I’ve known who’ve worked in male oriented fields, don’t want to speak out with our names and faces attached.

Because when your livelihood is on the line, sometimes you just endure and deal with it the best you can. The power to change something is when you have FU money. Then you don’t have to put up with anything. There’s nothing to threaten you with.

Is that terrible? Yes. But what can you really do about it? Who wants to be the woman who speaks out and then is silenced because she can’t get a job or move up the ranks to break the glass ceiling for other women?

#MeToo Finally Hitting the Financial Sector

In 2016, I remember when Megan Messina’s story broke the news. She was co-head of structured products at BAML. Her male co-head was paid $5.5M while she was paid $2M and shut out of meetings with her boss, while even those below her got paid more. On page 16 of the public lawsuit she filed, you can see that even her underlings were paid more than her.

I’m happy that she broke the silence. We have to start somewhere, and it has to be at the top where women are not afraid to speak up because they’re more likely to have financial security. Because let’s face it, even if the lawsuit is true, there’s an incredibly high probability that moves like this are a career ender.

Oddly enough, a New Yorker piece written by a female reporter called Megan “power-hungry”. What do you do when your own gender labels you as such? I’ve never quite heard a male in finance called power-hungry. Only ambitious, hard-working, clever, etc. What do you do when your own gender is biased against you? How do you change that?

Sarah Tirschwell filed a complaint in early 2018, alleging that her boss made repeated advances towards her, and that when she made allegations of such to HR, TCW fired her 9 days later.

Just a few weeks ago, Lauren Bonner from Point72 filled a discrimination lawsuit as well. FYI, the billionaire investor in charge of Point72, Steven Cohen, walked away with no jail time and no personal fine either for his insider trading. The SEC has even allowed him to return to managing outside money after 2 years. He hit a snag when Bonner filed a lawsuit. If you watch Billions, rumors are that the show is based off of him.

A quote from the Barron’s article about Point 72: “The suit claims it was a “demeaning, abusive environment where men use the word `Pussy,’ openly declare that `no girls [are] allowed’ in meetings, and refuse to hire women because their `wives will not let them.'”

I don’t think #MeToo will disrupt finance or CS the way it has disrupted Hollywood in 2018. In finance, there are very few women who have managed to make it to the top — who can speak up publicly and not worry about their future. Women like Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, and Gwyneth Paltrow are all figures people are familiar with and can respond to. The names that pop up in industry lawsuits? They’re harder to rally with and don’t get as much publicity outside of people in the industry.

The scene has become more of a “don’t get into an elevator alone with a woman”, “don’t meet women in public for drinks alone”, etc, rather than attempting to equalize men and women. Which is quite unfair, because let’s face it, promotions come because you do a great job, but also because you LIKE the person. When you go out and have a beer and hang out, that’s when you bond.

So, what’s a woman to do? Try and reach financial independence and make it to the glass ceiling, and then take the leap to stand up for other women. Because you need someone at the top to pull other women through the pipeline.

My Story of Realizing Financial Independence is Possible

In college, I was a part of a group that learned how to invest, figure out the valuation of companies, read 10-K’s, etc. Oddly enough, I didn’t figure out my personal finances until I graduated. College is a mystical place, a world where you don’t quite need to know how to manage your personal finances. A meal plan is laid out for you, a dorm was provided, and there weren’t really that many other incidentals. It also helped I got enough financial aid and scholarships to attend for free.

Once I got out in the world, I cobbled together knowledge from bloggers and news outlets. Each little stepping stone led me to wonder why there wasn’t a free curriculum out there for personal finance and financial independence.

  • Where were the free tools for it, the lessons, and the spreadsheets?
  • Surely, it was possible to retire before 65?
  • Why are there all these 40 and 50 year olds in finance who make buckets of money not retired or at least financially independent and helping out with a charity or something?
  • Where do they spend it?
  • Where were the required high school and college classes teaching you what a HSA was, how to access your 401k and IRA prior to retirement age without a penalty, or just the power of compound interest?
  • Surely, that was more important than the physics, biology, world history, and chemistry courses that I had to sit through?

Perhaps it’s because the American culture frowns upon talking about money. No one ever asks what your salary, net worth, or how much you’ve saved in the past year.

So, it should come as even less of a surprise that when you search female “early retirement” bloggers in the directory for finance bloggers over at Rockstar Finance , you find that only 20 percent of them are women, and that there are less than 10 woman in their 20s who are actively blogging about financial independence. The submission of blogs is completely voluntary, so the question here should be: why are there not more women blogging about financial independence?

If you start trying to achieve financial independence in your 20s, you’ll probably make it before your 40s if you give it a concentrated effort. At that time, you’ll be at a high point in your career. You want to speak up then? Do it. But make sure you’re in a financially stable place before you do so.

In the spirit of International Woman’s Day, I’ve shared my story of coming to terms with financial independence.

In giving back to the female community that has helped me so much over the years, I’m sharing a share a free e-course that I created that will guide you towards becoming financially independent too. At 20,000+ words, it’s got everything you need to make a change in your life financially. Since I talk about one topic a day, it’s not too overwhelming, and I give you the exact spreadsheet you need to improve your finances and reach Financial independence. Feel free to share it with other women in your life.

Because the only way we move gender equality forward is when we have women who aren’t afraid to speak up. The only way we get that is if women have financial security and independence.

Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

The average savings account rate is 0.1%. The big banks have incredibly low savings accounts rates. CIT Bank offers a 1.75% savings account. You can open an account with just $100 and no monthly fees or charge . Tired of being charged fees and getting peanuts in interest at your current bank? Open a CIT Bank savings account in less than 15 minutes online.

If you have a car, Rideshare apps allow you to pick a direction you want to go twice a day, so you can get extra money going somewhere you were driving to anyway at least twice a day. Get a $300 sign-up bonus with Lyft.

One of my favorite ways ways of monetizing my life is via credit card bonuses with cards that give you cashback or rewards. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire cards, which give you at least $500 in cash or $625 in travel credit.

24 thoughts on “You Can Only #MeToo Without Caring When You Are Financially Independent #womenrockmoney

  1. Thanks for sharing Olivia, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments in this post. I often wonder if I should have done more to call out unfair behaviour in the past, and taken the consequences. As I get closer to FI, I’m much more willing to take that stand.

    I think the biggest challenge is that lots of people don’t really believe the issue exists, in effect like the Black Swan theory. If it’s not directed at you, you are much less likely to notice.

    And at the moment I’m working in a team without a gender problem, which is ace. But I can only confidently say that because I have experienced the other. And I fully accept other people aren’t as lucky, and their reality differs.

    1. Definitely true, I wouldn’t call it out in public until I was super close to retirement. You just never know!

      That’s true, if I were a man, it might not have been obvious to me.

      That’s awesome! Keep repping us women up there :D.

  2. You are such an inspiration Olivia! I started out as a computer science major but I was scared off. True story. I was 1 out of 3 girls in a classroom of…30?

    2 out of 3 girls transferred out by the end of the semester. The only girl that stayed HAD to stay because she was an international student and her parents made her study computer science.

    If there were more girls in the class, I would have stayed. 100%. But I hated my own skin and already feeling the competition and glances. Sigh….regretting that now.

    1. Hihi Lily!

      That’s awful! See, I only got a CS degree due to luck! I guess it goes back to the frog in boiling/warm water theory, where if you turn the heat up a tiny bit at a time, the frog never notices.

      I guess the ratio just decreased a tiny bit at a time so I never noticed!

      There’s always room to go back :). Free coding academies and you can learn online! Plus Jared can teach you too :D. Go get your dream Lily!

  3. Oh wow, I never made the connection that those who can speak out with #metoo are often financially secure and able to take that risk. And the backlash can be devastating even for women in a good financial position.

    1. Yeah :(. I don’t think I would ever say anything, I’d probably just try and run and make sure I’m never alone with a sketchy person. At such a young level, I feel like it’d be pretty difficult to get another job in the industry! Time changes everything, so when women are equally on the top, we can say things with a louder voice :).

  4. Thank you for writing this Olivia! This is such an important message that I have had a hard time putting into words and sharing.

    One of my thoughts is that not every woman who reaches FI can actually take the leap and speak up. Unfortunately, we still need women advocating and mentoring in these top rungs. So the already small pool of women in power with the financial means to take this risk is cut down even further. I would love to hear you unbox this further!

    1. Hey Allyson, that’s a great point! So many women self-select before or just when they get to the glass ceiling, which certainly isn’t helping us very much!

      I know when I become FI, I’m going to do something different and not work for a corporation. I do feel a little guilt now that you mention that the small pool of women at top would get even smaller due to self-selection. I’m actually not sure how to combat that :(, but will ponder it some more and come back to the topic when I think of something.

  5. Preach! I wish power dynamics weren’t what they are–your ability to speak up and have your voice respected should have nothing to do with your income or social class. But, it’s a stark reality we unfortunately face. Hopefully we can remove the onus to treat women respectfully away from the very women who aren’t receiving respect, but in the meantime, striving to do better financially is a strong course of action.

    1. For sure! It’s also hard to do it anonymously, because what if the person only did it to you? Everyone will know and it won’t be anonymous.

      As women become more financially independent and stable, they can have their moment too. In the coming years, I’m hopeful more women will reach the top and be able to advocate for those who are lower down on the rungs.

  6. Loved that post!

    “Maybe it’s a mark of my ignorance that I managed to make it this far.” – Same with me. I went to an all girls school. I never knew that Maths was supposed to be difficult for me. So I was really good at it. I didn’t realize that “only men were good at engineering”, so I became a damn good one!

    1. I remember reading an experiment centered around math and preceptions. If you remind a group of women of their gender during the test, they performed worse. And funnily, if you remind a group of Asian women during the test that they are women, then remind them they’re Asian, the test score goes back up to baseline. It’s interesting how our subconscious works.

    2. Love it!

      See Lily’s comment below! If I had been the only one in my CS class, I’m not sure I would’ve stayed. I’d like to think I would have, but to be realistic, I don’t actually know! Unconscious bias must be everywhere!

  7. On a similar note, I feel this way about being a whistleblower in general. If my livelihood is threatened, it’s gonna take more for me to speak up. Especially when there are examples of being unemployable in the industry. In a smaller field, the reputation of being a ‘troublemaker’ travels around. That’s terrifying.

    1. It is terrifying! I guess if the whistleblower lawsuit paid out your FI? If it was bad enough? But I guess I’d want to accomplish something too. So it’s difficult!

  8. Olivia, this is such a great point about power dynamics. This is yet another reason why it’s so important for women to take control of their financial lives and for women who have already made it to a place of security to support those below them.

    1. Exactly! We have to take control of our finances. Even if we have significant others, you never know what will happen. You can’t really stand up for yourself if you’re the minority or not financially independent. You need sponsors to do it, people others listen to!

  9. I had a similar experience to you where I didn’t really comprehend that gender disparity existed until I graduated college. I’d guess it comes from a place of privilege, but it sure wasn’t my experience before then. After college, on the other hand, was a very different experience.

    Ps. I started in the RSF directory in my 20s but now I’m officially old and in my 30s 😉

    1. Same experience! I never realized it until after college. I guess it was so gradual I never really noticed it.

      Ahh. We have to recruit those younger women below us to be speakers :D.

  10. This is a really interesting and necessary post. Even in nursing, which is definitely female dominated, there are significant #metoo moments, and often they come from patients. There is a big push by the American Nurses Association to “End Nurse Abuse,” both male and female, but the underlying problem is that we are still expected and in fact often required to care for patients that are verbally and physically abusive. I wonder if it would be the same if there were more men in the profession? And I wonder if FI would give us more pull (and less fear) to tell our supervisors, “I’m not caring for that abusive patient.”

    1. This is a topic I hadn’t thought of! I encourage you to write about it on your blog in a post – other nurses probably feel the same and it could create awareness about the situation!

      I agree though, it’s definitely hard to speak up when you don’t have the financial FU money to do so!

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Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

The average savings account rate is 0.1%. The big banks have incredibly low savings accounts rates. CIT Bank offers a 1.75% savings account. You can open an account with just $100 and no monthly fees or charge . Tired of being charged fees and getting peanuts in interest at your current bank? Open a CIT Bank savings account in less than 15 minutes online.

If you have a car, Rideshare apps allow you to pick a direction you want to go twice a day, so you can get extra money going somewhere you were driving to anyway at least twice a day. Get a $300 sign-up bonus with Lyft.

One of my favorite ways ways of monetizing my life is via credit card bonuses with cards that give you cashback or rewards. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire cards, which give you at least $500 in cash or $625 in travel credit.