Women’s economic power is expressed in different ways in our research on the economic and emotional lives of women. What the data tells us is that women’s experience and feelings do not accurately reflect the economic power they have.

Many women have high incomes - 37% have a household income over $70,000, while another 27% had incomes between $30, 000 and $70,000. These women are both women without children and those with children under 65.

Women have the highest degree of influence on purchasing decisions in a household. Most women (upwards of 70%) were either the sole decider or shared equally on all purchase decisions with the exception of hardware (although 43% of the women said they had decision making power in that area too).

Here we see the breakdown of that data

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If we look further at money (where the economic power rests), 73% of women had sole or equal responsibility for bill power, 87% sole or equal for maintaining household budgets, 78% sole or equal responsibility for insurance and investment decisions, and 57% sole or equal responsibility for earning the household income. The women in the research also took most of the responsibility for household tasks and housework. This reflects the picture of women today from official statistics, they work and are responsible for finances in the household but also take on most of the unpaid labour.

Do women feel they have much social power?

If we look at women’s responses to questions on gender perspectives we see that on top of the agreement that society needs to be more supportive of women’s choices, 65% are concerned or very concerned about how the media stereotypes women and girls, 64% agree it is hard for women to be considered equal in the workplace, 54% agree that men use PMT, periods and /or menopause to degrade women, and half of the women talked to do not agree or are neutral that their partners share the care of their children.

Women’s interactions in the consumer and media world are not very positive either, with the vast majority of women feeling men are treated better than women by the trades (73%) and car dealerships (63%). A third of women also think the media, financial advisors and real estate agents treat men better than women, this is in light of the data that women are making the majority of financial decisions in a household.

What the data tells us is that women’s experience and feelings do not accurately reflect the economic power they have. Yes, there is a significant gender pay gap still, and yes women both do paid work and most of the unpaid work, but they also make many decisions and earn a significant amount of the money coming into households, and there is power in this reality.

The opportunity here is to acknowledge women's strength, and to support women to realise their economic power, to ensure they feel more positive about the decisions they do make, and about the way that organisations treat them and their money.