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Financial equality and independence are important for women. And in many countries, women have more financial decision-making power than ever:

  • Women are earning more.
  • Controlling more wealth.
  • Inheriting more.
  • And starting more businesses.
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1. RBC Economics, March 2020
2. Statistics Canada, RBC Economics, 2022
3. CIBC Economics, 2019
4. RBC Economics, 2023
5. Wells Fargo Economics, 2021
6. CIBC Economics, 2019
7. Fidelity Investments, 2023

Yet there are still many gender financial gaps that cost women time and money. These can include the wage gap, investing gap, caregiver gap, pricing gap and others. As an RBC study shows, despite more women returning to the workforce since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, they continue to earn less and occupy fewer senior leadership positions than men. These gaps can add up to a very real gender wealth gap – and that can have a big effect on your financial future.

Did you know? When women are ready to retire, they have often saved only two thirds of what men have saved. Yet they have to plan for a longer retirement, as they tend to outlive men by an average of 4 years.8

How can women close the wealth gender gap?

To build financial security and well-being, it’s essential for women to save and invest their money. With time, you can grow your savings through the power of compounding. You can also take advantage of the fact that on average markets tend to rise over the long term.

And no matter what you currently do or don’t know about investing, as a woman you may already hold some of the keys to investing success. Studies confirm that women often make better investors than men.

  • In one study from August 2014 to August 2017, women saw their investment portfolios grow 0.81% more on average than their male counterparts each year.
  • If that performance continued for 30 years, women would end up with 25% more in their portfolios than men. 9

Three strengths women have as investors 

  1. Studies show women are patient investors, trading less often than men. Instead, they tend to develop a strategy and stick to it, buying and holding for the longer term. Less trading leads to lower costs, so you keep more of your investment earnings. Here’s what one study of stock-picking by gender found over several years:  
  • Single female investors outperform single men by 2.3%.
  • Women overall outperform men by 1.4%.
  • Men underperformed because they traded 45% more than female investors.10  

Key to success: Women investors were more likely to stay the course and keep a long-term mindset, when compared to male investors.

  1. Women are more likely than men to diversify their investments. They may do this by choosing investments that contain a diversified mix of stocks and bonds, such as target date or balanced funds. Or they may hold a mix of different types of funds – which spreads their investment dollars across multiple holdings within each fund.
  • Some 44% of women have either most or all of their portfolio in funds – compared with 38% of men.11

Key to success: Diversification means your investments tend to be less affected by the ups and downs of financial markets. If one investment drops in value, it may be offset by another’s growth.

  1. Women tend to be more risk aware when they invest. They take the time to evaluate whether the reward justifies the risk. They also tend to pause to assess potential drawbacks before diving in.
  • Women in one study were 50% less likely than men to suffer a loss of 30% or more – a finding that is directly related to women’s choice of lower risk investments.12
  • A Wells Fargo Investment Institute study found that 16% of men identify as “more aggressive” compared to just 4% of women.13

Key to success: Know your risk tolerance and your risk capacity before you invest.

Everyone is capable of improving their financial future and investing knowledge. That’s true whether you want to learn the basics of investing or are ready to explore more advanced investing strategies.

If you’re just getting started, this checklist sets out 10 steps to financial wellness. Working with an advisor can also help investors recognize their strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses that stop them from making sound investment decisions.

By investing in yourself, you can start to close the gender wealth gap – and take charge of your financial future.

Interested in exploring how investor behaviour affects long-term success? Read about two common mistakes investors make and how to avoid them.  

8. Taylor, P.S. A gender gap that’s a matter of life and death, Maclean’s, March 2017.
9. Hargreaves Lansdown, Women who invest tend to outperform men, 2018.
10. Barber, B.M. and Odean, T. Boys will be boys: gender, overconfidence, and common stock investment, 2001.
11. Hargreaves Lansdown, Women who invest tend to outperform men, 2018.
12. Hargreaves Lansdown, Women who invest tend to outperform men, 2018.
13. Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Women and Investing: Building on strengths. January 2019.


Last updated: March 7, 2024

This has been provided by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. (RBC GAM) and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment, financial or other advice and such information should not be relied upon for providing such advice. RBC GAM takes reasonable steps to provide up-to-date, accurate and reliable information, and believes the information to be so when provided. Information obtained from third parties is believed to be reliable but RBC GAM and its affiliates assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered. RBC GAM reserves the right at any time and without notice to change, amend or cease publication of the information.

Some of the statements contained in this document may be considered forward-looking statements which provide current expectations or forecasts of future results or events. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and involve risks and uncertainties. Do not place undue reliance on these statements because actual results or events may differ materially from those described in such forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. Before making any investment decisions, we encourage you to consider all relevant factors carefully.

Publication Date: 5 March, 2021