TEXT OF COMMENTARY
Lauren Silverman: I wish my mom or grandma had shown me the ropes so I didn’t feel like investing was such a masculine word.
TESS VIGELAND: Youth Radio commentator and college senior Lauren Silverman.
SILVERMAN: Growing up, I watched my dad make most of the major money decisions. I remember my mom hunched over late at night at the dining room table, sorting through a stack of bills. But she was more of the bookkeeper. It was always my dad checking the portfolio, rebalancing the assets, reading the fine print.
So now that I’m investing in the stock market, I’m happy I’ve already made progress — not in the way of dollars and cents. I haven’t made a ton of money. More like a percent or two. My goal right now is not just about making money, but understanding it. I want to become a financially independent woman.
I’ve heard the legends about my grandma making a ton of money investing in Coca-Cola and General Motors. But I don’t remember her ever uttering a word to me about her stock market miracles. And then again, she only started investing after my grandpa passed away and there was no alternative.
There’s nothing wrong with my grandpa or dad investing for the family. But I used to think that knowing how to balance a portfolio or read a cash flow statement was something that came with having someone male around. So I decided to change that, for me.
I started studying at BusinessWeek’s online Learning Center and looking for financially savvy female role models — the Oprah Winfrey’s of the investing world. I stumbled upon a tutorial on the world’s top investors on the Investopedia Web site. At first I was excited to read the profiles, but then I discovered a pattern. Number one is a man. Number two, a man. Number three, yep, you guessed it, also a man. There was not a single woman included in the entire list of 20.
But the thing is, in my research, I found plenty of financially successful and inspiring women, like Muriel Siebert. She’s the first female to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. And there is Suze Orman. She’s the famous financial advisor and motivational speaker. But none of them made nearly as much money as their male counterparts.
And the truth is, that’s fine with me. Investing doesn’t have to be all about who can add the most zeros to a bank account. And it doesn’t mean relying on a partner to make choices for you. My grandmother was a role model, but she kept quiet about her investments. I wish she didn’t. I won’t be like my grandma and pick up investing when I have to. The time to start is now, and I plan to make some noise.
Vigeland: Lauren Silverman is a senior at the University of Michigan. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on women and investing.
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