Women & Money: Factors Influencing Women’s Financial Decision-Making

This article is based on a presentation by Professor Roslyn Russell, RMIT, Principal Research Fellow in the school of Economics, Finance and Marketing. Professor Russell presented on 6 Sept 2013 at a financial literacy

forum organised by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. CCLSWA takes responsibility for any errors for the content below.

Professor Russell’s research explored the underlying factors that influence women’s behaviour in financial decisions and money management. The research found that three factors influence women’s financial behaviour:


 2) Self-esteem

 3)Financial knowledge and capability

 The implications of the research include:

  1. Women’s past circumstances influence their financial behaviour.  For example, childhood experiences and socialisation affect their self-efficacy and financial capability. Growing up in poverty and hardship too can create certain attitudes. Women can either become ‘scared of debt’ or have problems with debt.
  2. Financial education / information is not enough to bring about effective decision-making, and may not make any difference as a stand-alone tactic. Women lack trust in other sources of information, such as financial advisors or counsellors. Instead they rely heavily on those around them: spouses, friends, parents etc.
  3. Women’s financial journeys are emotional. Finances are inseparable from lived experiences and family life such as marriage, children, divorce and death.
  4. Relationships are critical to women’s decisions. They show their commitment or loyalty to their spouse through their finances, particularly by trusting their spouse to manage their finances.
  5. Sometimes, where a spouse is financially illiterate, the woman may feel compelled to take on the financial decision-making activities.

 The research suggests that the following can promote women’s financial well-being:

 1) Modelling financial behaviour within the family home; anS

 2) Talking about money with children, as a family.

 CCLSWA provides helpful information on money and debt, which could be used for discussions with children and the wider family.


Michael Duncan