The gender wealth-gap: a thick glass-ceiling yet to be broken.

A closer look at female participation in decision-making and capital gains.

In many areas, Norway has made significant progress in achieving gender equality. Today, Norwegian girls and women have the same opportunities in education, health, economic and political participation. Usually, the focus on gender equality circles around topics such as income, general management positions, board representation, and political empowerment, but often the conversation ends there. Some time ago, somebody asked me, “when will we know that we have reached true equality? When will it be enough?”. The answer is simple: when we overcome the hurdles that prevent women and men from participating equally, also where the future is being decided, where innovation happens and capital gains are accumulated.

In collaboration with Norway Reports, WIN analyzed the participation of women as shareholders and their investment behavior to answer the following question: how wide is the gender capital and wealth gap in Norway?

Women’s participation as shareholders and wealth accumulation

According to the data published by Statistics Norway, in 2019, women held only 30.7% of the total shares in private companies. The differences in investment participation between women and men are significantly larger than the income disparities.

The number of male shareholders in private companies has experienced an upward trend since 2011, increasing every year by 14.1% on average. In the same period, the number of women shareholders has increased by 8.5%. The difference may not seem very large at first glance, but it becomes highly significant when considering the number of shareholders: since 2011, over 76,000 males became new shareholders but only 17,000 women acquired equity in private companies. This translates to the fact that women’s participation in decision-making and wealth-accumulating activities is still incredibly low.

What explains the ladies’ investment behavior? Arguably, it may be correlated to lower wages, higher risk aversion, and a lack of financial culture and information about the capital markets. Historical and traditional reasons play a role too, but I will discuss these in other blog posts.

Not surprisingly, though, the lower participation of women as shareholders reflects in wealth distribution. In Oslo alone, men hold NOK 10.18 billion in shares, while women hold just over NOK 4 billion. At a national level, men have 76.7% of the total capital wealth.

Why does this matter? Because this is the upper side of economic participation. Because with ownership comes decision-making power and influence. The future is being decided by those who own it.

Ladies, it is not enough to make money but to learn to make smart money decisions, be more involved in investment activities, and increase your assets’ profitability. As importantly, we can use our capital to invest in the world we want to live in.

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