I recently received an email from a friend (who will remain unnamed, but hey Morgan) with the subject line: “this is a sexist-ass Groupon deal”. “Why are they assuming our lady brains don’t know how to invest?!” demanded the sender in reference to the Groupon deal for a $55 “Investing Lesson for Women” taught by an accomplished woman with an extensive background in Finance. The lesson includes “fundamental investing advice for women”, “investing basics”, and “wine and [sic] crepes”.
Here’s my question: what the hell is “investing for women”?
Are we plotting market fluctuations against our changing hormones? Hedging bets against our own fertility? Mutual funds and Midol? Why else do we need to take a women’s investing class? The only logical explanation is that this course will explain investing, neatly packaged in pink bows and ribbons, mixed in with some jokes about swiping that plastic a little too often at Bloomingdale’s, and half-baked to the conclusion that you too can be money savvy like the boys. Because all women are fiscally irresponsible and love shopping to the point of tunnel vision, right?
I believe in the importance of fostering an equal environment for women and girls in the workplace, and especially in sectors where women are underrepresented. I believe we all need feminism. I cringe at the tweets hashtagged #WhyIDontNeedFeminism. We need Girls Who Code, we need Sally Ride Science , and we need women’s colleges – but we don’t need to be told that we can only learn in terms of sparkles, make up, and boy bands. There’s nothing gendered about the empirical basics of investing.
There’s no female-centric aspect, nothing a woman can’t learn from a general course on investing, and no terms to put fundamentals in that aren’t applicable to all humans. There’s no appropriate way to package investing to appeal to women – yes, even crêpes and wine are unnecessary.
I would be wrong to conclude without bringing up an example that targeted young women. I recently stumbled across a Cosmopolitan conference called “Fun, Fearless Life” (ok, someone in my sorority posted it on Facebook – but this only speaks to my inherent, ungendered tendency to be lazy AF). The conference is a two-day event at the pretty unreasonable starting price of $99 (but hey, maybe if you take a women’s investment course, you might have some extra cash laying around now that you’ve eliminated your hormonal shopping sprees), but features accomplished men and women in a few fields.
But why the hell is it called that? I swear “Fun, Fearless Life” is a wall decal you can find from Michael’s. And I resent that. Life isn’t always fun, and it sure as fuck isn’t fearless. But titles aside, the event is sponsored by Maybelline (we all gotta hustle, right?) which is more or less fine.
Here’s where the issue comes into play. Direct from the pink and red ombré “About” page comes a shining example of everything that is wrong with “Fun, Fearless Life”: “You’ll get tips on amping up your morning beauty routine, managing your money, finding your voice, and other things you need to live ‘fun fearless forward’ and make the best of your life.”
I’m sorry – did I hallucinate “morning beauty routine” being listed as one of the lessons I need to learn in order to make the best of my life? Sure, you could argue this is because Maybelline has gotta get its money’s worth out of this partnership, but there is a better way. Sponsor female scholars, subsidize entrepreneurial workshops, and do everything you can to be an ally – but don’t tell girls that a smokey eye is on par with gender equality in the course of life.
We have a problem when it comes to encouraging women and girls to break down gender barriers, and that problem is packaging. We don’t need to lure girls and women into careers in math, science, and technology with sugar, and spice, and everything nice.
We need to give girls the tools to navigate in a grossly gendered society, to give them a safe environment to learn without the risk of being labeled, teased, or judged. We need to teach them that you can be “girly” if you love physics, and you can be a “Tom boy” if you love ballet.
You can be whatever the hell you want to be, you can dress however you want to dress, you can love make up and mechanical engineering because these things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they have nothing to do with each other unless you’re inundating your pistons with sparkles because of the body glitter you’re wearing.
Listen, you don’t need to pay $55 to have gender stereotypes reinforced. That’s not a deal, Groupon. That’s highway robbery – sexist stereotypes are thrown around for free everyday. Also, I hate Rom Coms, exclusively wear the color black, am obsessed with both blink-182 and One Direction, love floral arrangements, and own three skateboards.