EVERFI Content Team

Closing the gender gap in financial health has the potential to not only to improve millions of women’s lives but also to add trillions to the U.S. economy. Yet women – married or single – face worse outcomes on every measure of financial health. The inequities grow even greater for women of color, and the gulf only widened during the pandemic.

During our Impact Summit in October, EVERFI President and Chief Impact Officer, Ellen Patterson, led a panel of women in the financial industry to discuss the crucial topic of the gender gap in financial health and strategies to empower Gen Z women with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to build wealth and take control of their finances today and in the future. The panel featured Cara Knox, Principal, Reputation Management at Edward Jones, Jo Christine Miles, Director at Principal Financial Group, and Paola Garcia Abbo, Vice President and Head of Impact at OneMain Financial.

From savings and spending to borrowing and planning, 46 percent of women enter retirement financially insecure with nearly half of black and Hispanic women retiring into poverty. Financial literacy – or a lack thereof – is a primary driver contributing to the gender-based wealth gap and many studies suggest that this is not a competency issue, but a confidence issue for women.

There are several key factors that are contributing to the financial health gender gap including income disparity, segregation in low-income fields, and the impact of medical and student loan debt on women. “When I think about investing, I also think about debt,” said Paola. “And specifically for women, that’s what comes to mind as it is of the utmost importance. At OneMain, we give personal loans and started a program with EVERFI on the importance of credit education.” By sponsoring these types of financial education programs and reaching people an earlier age, financial institutions can help increase financial literacy for women and close that gap.

The women on the panel discussed the need for accessible and affordable childcare, as women often leave the workforce for caregiving responsibilities, further widening the income gap. “You have women retreating from the workforce so they’re making less and have fewer growth opportunities,” said Jo Christine. “When you add all of those up, you’re talking about less money over the course of her lifetime.”

“When women leave the workforce, they not only take a pause on earning, but they take a pause on wealth accelerators like 401k matching and paying down student loan debt,” said Cara. “Ninety-six percent of Americans feel that basic financial education should be taught in all schools. I think that’s encouraging that hopefully women will become educated earlier and know how to overcome some of these barriers and challenges they face.”

There is a crucial role that financial institutions can play in creating more inclusive and equitable financial services for women. This includes better representation, offering trusted advisors, and the development of financial products tailored to women’s preferences and experiences. “Women make great financial advisors, which is why we’ve partnered with EVERFI to create a module on education around financial services careers,” said Cara. The entire panel agreed that financial institutions have a responsibility to be a trusted advisor about finances, especially with the amount of misinformation being given to Gen Z through social media and influencers.

There are strategies and initiatives that have been successful in empowering women, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach that is going to work broadly for all women. “Where FinTech is excelling is those companies that aren’t trying to replace traditional products but are trying to work alongside running parallel to those products,” said Jo Christine. The panelists shared the advice and knowledge that they wish they had learned in their financial journey as women, including tips like negotiating your salary, planning for retirement, and learning how to invest. “Sixty-one percent of women would rather talk about their own death than finances,” said Cara. “It’s true. I feel like we need to just talk about this more. We need to make it cool to talk about finances.”

This session served as a powerful catalyst for change – a call for open conversations, allyship, and a collective effort to bridge the gender gap in financial health. The journey may be complex, but the insights shared by these influential women light the way for a more inclusive and equitable financial future.

To learn more about how your organization can sponsor financial education in your community and help close the gender gap in financial health, visit