The Gender Wealth Gap – International Women’s Day

Gender Wealth Gap

International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the various achievements of women and stands as a call to action for advancing women’s equality. While discussions surrounding the gender wage gap are commonplace, the gender wealth gap is a significant but often overlooked issue. It exists worldwide, and the data indicates it is considerably more significant than the pay gap. Whilst it is difficult to quantify in a single figure, a study in the US found that, on average, for every dollar a man holds, a woman holds only 55 cents. In New Zealand, research into KiwiSaver balances revealed that women in their 40s have 34% less than men of the same age. This increases to 37% for women in their 50s, emphasising a persisting disparity in the financial positions of men and women.  

There are a multitude of reasons for this inequity, and some of the historical barriers and ongoing challenges faced by women include:  

  • Access to bank accounts, property ownership, or investments has historically been limited for women. In New Zealand, the struggle for women to secure mortgages independently, without a male co-signature, persisted until as late as the 1980s.  
  • Women are typically paid less than men, a trend that still persists today (in 2023, the gender pay gap in New Zealand was reported to be 8.6%).  
  • Women are more likely to shoulder the caregiving responsibilities within families, often taking career breaks or working part-time to care for children or ageing parents. Even those who return to full-time work may fail to escape the ‘Motherhood Penalty;’ a phenomenon that sees women’s wages and earning potential decrease once they become mothers. In New Zealand, this is thought to be a 12.5% decrease throughout a woman’s career.  

Women are less likely to invest than men. A study from the UK found that 74% of women felt too nervous to invest.  In New Zealand, it has been estimated that only 16% of women are investing, and women are more likely to keep their money in savings accounts. Rates on savings accounts rarely keep up with inflation and lead to wealth erosion over time.  

Paradoxically, numerous studies reveal that when women do invest, they tend to outperform their male counterparts. This has been shown across all categories, from everyday retail investors to hedge fund managers. Nevertheless, women tend to lack confidence in their abilities and often consider themselves less knowledgeable about investing than men.  

At Cambridge Partners, we are passionate about supporting women and working to close the wealth gap. Over the coming year, we plan to lead a series of initiatives aiming to empower women to achieve their financial goals. Through this we hope to grow our community of like-minded women, learning together and sharing ideas.

If you would like to speak to one of our female advisers, email us at or use the Contact Us function on our website.   

Written by Cambridge Partners’ Associate Adviser Hannah Meikle.

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