Some of the other reasons behind some women investors' lack of confidence are complicated and probably deeply cultural, said experts. Parents even treat their sons and daughters differently when it comes to teaching them about money: They talk to their sons about money more than they talk to their daughters about it, and boys have earlier access to credit cards, according to a survey by Baltimore, Maryland-based T. Rowe Price.
In some cases, educated, independent, breadwinning women seem to have an aversion to the idea of being an investor. About five years ago the Washington, D.C.-based Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement was running a series of investment seminars to help a group of nurses prepare for retirement. The institute was interested in part for research purposes, because nurses would be highly educated and, presumably, interested in investing.
What happened, though, stunned M. Cindy Hounsell, the institute's president. The group held the seminars, but hardly anybody came. "One or two people," Hounsell remembers.
The team changed the names of the seminars so that they were no longer about "investing." Instead, they were about "financial security."
The room filled up. "Women don't consider themselves investors," Hounsell says. "There has to be a whole mind-set shift to bring more women into the circle."
Krawcheck, Hounsell and Judith Ward, senior financial planner and vice president at Baltimore-based fund company T. Rowe Price, suggested a few steps for women to take if they are looking to overcome their fear of investing and build confidence. Women need the higher returns that come from investing, because they live, on average, almost five years longer than men.