Slice of Social Justice Event Shifts Focus on Finance and the Gender Investment Gap

By, Maddie Johnson, Senior Writer

On March 25, the Lasallian Women and Gender Center, Campus Ministry of Social Action and the Investment Club came together to co-host a Slice of Social Justice event about the gender investment gap. Students gathered in the Social Action Suite in Kelly Commons to watch Claire Lovell give a presentation about the meaning of investing, the future of cryptocurrency and why there is such a large gender gap in finance and investment. 

Claire Lovell currently works as the director for product management and retail for Gemini, a company that exchanges cryptocurrency. She is a recent graduate of Manhattan College, having earned her MBA just last year, and is married to a sociology professor at the college, Robin Lovell, Ph.D. 

Freshman Michaela Scully, who is an employee for the Social Action Suite and helped organize the event, originally contacted Robin Lovell to do a presentation. That’s when Scully was directed to contact Claire Lovell, an expert on investing and who understands first hand how it is like to work in a male-dominated industry. 

“I had taken a class with professor Lovell last year,” Scully said. “So, we were able to get a connection with her wife, Claire, and I am very grateful. I actually learned a lot I didn’t know and I’m happy people like her are hoping to make more strides towards more education and more women in finance and investment.”

Lovell began her presentation by giving attendees some background information about what exactly investment is, breaking down the difference between investment and savings. She then stressed the importance of young individuals, particularly college students, needing to invest in stocks rather than just saving their money. Lovell emphasized that it’s crucial to be aware of investing because of high inflation rates, and went on to use skyrocketing gas prices as an example to support her point.

“If any of you have cars right now, you probably remember a few months ago it cost you a few bucks per gallon,” Lovell said. “So in other words, the spending power of the money you’re saving goes down over time. Inflation is always happening, every year and some years, it’s very high, and some years, it’s very low.”

Following her discussion about investing, Lovell touched on the subject of women disappointingly being discouraged to participate in the stock market. She also brought up the various reasons there are as to why women are at a disadvantage when it comes to succeeding more in investing. Lovell discussed how there being other major gender gaps, such as in education and the workplace, result in women being less involved and informed about investing. 

“Women also tend to get less of that financial education and then due to having children, women also tend to spend less time in the workforce as well,” Lovell said. “So often when people retire, Men are usually about three years older than their wives and then the wife and husband retire at the same time, so the husband may be eligible for their full social security benefits. But, the women are usually not because they haven’t reached that full retirement age, which is 70 right now.”

Despite these large gender gaps that put women in an unfavorable position, Lovell shared that ironically women have proven repeatedly that they are better at investing than men.

“But, when women do invest, they actually tend to outperform men, and study after study has shown this. The reason for that is women tend to make less risky investments and they’re more emotionally connected to the things they’re choosing to invest in.”

On top of explaining that women have the capabilities to invest but deal with numerous drawbacks, Lovell concluded her presentation by highlighting that the ratio between men and women working in finance increases the gender investment gap. Although, that hasn’t stopped Lovell from encouraging other women to invest and to work in business related fields. 

When answering questions from students, Lovell was asked by one student how she manages to excel in economics when it’s a male-dominated industry. She shared that she did not study finance or economics as an undergraduate, but her drive and motivation to understand the business is what helped her succeed when working for a startup company.

“I don’t have an undergraduate degree in economics, but I just believed that I was capable and was interested and that was enough,” Lovell said. “It’s a little bit harder at traditional big banks, they really love to hire people from, you know, certain schools and with certain backgrounds. I have to work harder than someone maybe who has an economics degree from an Ivy League school, but willing to do that research and do that work, willing to fail and make mistakes, I think has served me well.”

Junior and biology major Ashley Delacruz, was one of the attendees at the event and heard about Lovell’s talk from her psychology professor, Kimberly Fairchild, Ph.D. Delacruz mentioned she was eager to see Lovell’s presentation since she rarely studies economics.

“For someone who doesn’t know anything about business, it was very beneficial. None of this is something that I focus on at all in my major, but after coming to the event, I feel like not only did it give me a good perspective on the inequalities of women, but it kind of sparked my interest in possibly investing myself,” Delacruz said.

Ultimately, Lovell hopes through her presentation that she spreads awareness about the gender investment gap. She explained that she wants more women to get involved in investing for the sake of shaping their financial future, as well as the future for what the financial workplace looks like. 

“The more women that get into financial careers, the more those products and services will reflect women’s needs. So I think it’s going to improve [the gender gap] over time, but, you know, it’s something that we sort of have to take the lead for ourselves to some degree.”