I trudged up the stairs and into the next conference room, with a panel of women set to speak about their tech founder experience and journey. I groaned inwardly, knowing exactly how the entire panel experience will be conducted like some sort of banal, insipid script for a play that by now seems trite and almost clichéd.
The entrance to the conference room was left wide open. Women of all walks of life filled the space with laughter and ebullience. The women founders in the room, women who’ve founded some sort of movement, charity, company, or their long-lost cat, were flushed with excitement, chattering away with eager attendees who’d stop at nothing to snap and upload wefies onto their Instagram stories and feed, and race their fingers across the screen of their smartphones, ferociously typing out captions and hashtags with such ardor.
“Cherieeeee,” screeched a familiar voice from behind. A slightly inebriated woman —the host of this conference— teetered towards me with a microphone in her hands. She clearly was in need of assistance, also, flat shoes. As the host of the conference, she probably felt obligated to be decked out in an arresting outfit – the striking contrast between mandarin orange and ivory complimented her apparent zeal. “You can’t imagine how glad I am to have you here. You need to be up on stage! You need to promise me that you will speak at my events again, especially since you’ve taken such a unique path in your work!”
The breathiness of her voice made it sightly difficult to discern the level of seriousness she had in her tone. I returned a quick nod and flashed a smile, knowing exactly how things would play out from here. It was like clockwork, with everything pre-planned to the minute: I got to speak with women who attended the conference, shared my work and purpose.
I talked to a lot of women under thirty who, when they found out I was a financial planner, said things like, “Oh, I should talk to you” or more alarmingly, “Oh, yes I know, I need to plan. I’m so bad finances. I’ll think about it”
Needless to say, I felt nauseated.
Now, of course, this is an observation that likely only I would have made at this conference, as I was the only financial planner there (that I know of), who rose from an intensive background in software and business. Perhaps my experience transitioning from a software business into the world of financial planning was the answer to addressing this alarming lack of financial knowledge in the world of tech, particularly so for women.
The specific questions I got from these women were about stock investments, or “investments”, and crypto. Which, frankly, scared me a bit. Surely these investments are interesting, but on the priority list of “What You Need to Focus on to Strengthen Your Financial Health and Wealth”, they’re so freakin’ far down they could almost fall off the bottom.
Here are these young, promising women who in just a couple of years were propelled into a career that was financially rewarding and purposeful, which could give them so much power and choice in their life in a mere 10 years down the line..and they’re too distracted and intimidated to see further than what media and society has painted out for them.
Imagine if all the women in tech, all the people in tech, started learning about personal finance: how they could control their finances, and taking full advantage of the financial opportunities they had going for them. What could happen if all of these women had the financial muscle to make decisions they needed to make, decisions they wanted to make, and not just decisions that were unfairly and disproportionally influenced by the likes of media and society? I have a good feeling it would change things for the better — for women, for the industry, for our society.
Who runs the world? Uh, clearly not girls. Yet.