By Anita Bruzzese
Author of 45 Things You do that Drive Your Boss Crazy and Take This Job and Thrive
Small changes can help your financial dreams come true
Currently women make about 80 cents for every dollar a man does, but the financial hit can be even greater for women in Silicon Valley. A recent #ANGELS study finds that women get half the amount of equity of their male colleagues in startups and even female founders fall short: They own 39 cents for every dollar of equity of a male founder.
Add to the financial challenge the other issues facing women in tech such as supporting children and parents while battling job burnout, and Kim Gaxiola says it's clear there must be an immediate reckoning if women want to see their future dreams come true.
Gaxiola, a certified financial planner and owner of Tech Girl Financial, discusses the challenges and solutions for women in tech with business journalist Anita Bruzzese:
Bruzzese: It's clear that women in technology have real financial challenges, based on current salary and equity studies. How can women be smart about planning for their financial well-being now and in the future?
Gaxiola: To me, it's all about small changes that women can make to give them the greatest impact in the future. It's been said that every "yes" is a "no" to something else. Well, I think that every "no" today is a "yes" to something in the future. Do you want to retire early? Do you want to spend more time with your family now? I tell them, "Give me the best-case scenario," and then we build out from there. The smallest changes now can make the biggest difference in 20 to 30 years.
Bruzzese: Even small changes can seem daunting. How can women make these difficult decisions during a time when there seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the world?
Gaxiola: In the old days, you used a paper map to figure out how to get somewhere. You couldn't tell if there was an accident or road construction that would cause you to detour or slow you down. Now, we use apps like Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps or a Garmin GPS, which lets us know to take another road to avoid such problems. Well, we've got sort of the same thing — new financial planning software that works the same way. We plug in everything we know about you and it will provide a road map, such as how your retirement will be affected if your parents get sick or your child gets accepted to a private university.
Bruzzese: When you talk to women in technology, what kind of challenges do women face that may be factored into their financial decisions?
Gaxiola: I have a lot of conversations with women who have successful careers, but it's very taxing for them. They feel like something is missing. Many of them had children later in life, and so they're often very tired trying to take care of a family and doing their jobs. They've done a lot to get where they are and they're appreciative. But they start to ask themselves: "When can I pull back? Do I work hard now so I can quit sooner? Or, do I pull back sooner and spend more time at home – but work longer?" What I'm seeing is a lot of women who want to quit in their 50s and are looking at what they need to do to get there and how to get financially organized.
Bruzzese: How does TechGirl help women in their 50's who may be torn about what to do in their current financial situation?
I tell them it's just like when you're told on an airplane to put on your oxygen mask first before you help your child put on his or her mask. I think what we must get through to women is that they've got to take care of themselves financially now, and then their families can be more comfortable later.
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