Hey! Thanks for your interest in my PhD research, which I'm currently undertaking in the School of Finance, Economics and Marketing at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

 

I started out as a part-time Masters by Research student in March 2018 but throughout the following year and a half, it became pretty clear that my research subject had a greater scope. So, in February 2020 I completed a Confirmation of Candidature and successfully upgraded to a PhD.

In December 2020 I was awarded a RMIT Research Stipend Scholarship which has allowed me to leave my day job writing content for a superannuation fund and become a full-time student. Huzzah!

What's my PhD about?

Australian women currently retire with at least 37% less superannuation than Australian men. This gap exists for two reasons: career interruptions to paid employment due to child-bearing and caring responsibilities and salary differences between women and men. The superannuation gap between women and men starts to widen when women are in their 30s. By age 40, men have twice the superannuation of women. By encouraging behavioural change among millennial women, the majority of whom are currently in their 30s, it may be possible to narrow this gap. One approach is to understand how this cohort of women can be nudged to engage in the three balance building actions of combine, contribute and invest. Thus, this study will examine drivers of financial capability that are required to enact behaviour change in this context.

 

The primary aim of this study is to explore the impact of the sources of self-efficacy on the economic socialisation of girls and young women through to their interactions with Online Social Networks (OSNs) - a burgeoning field for millennials seeking financial advice. In building the financial capability of millennial women through self-efficacy, they may be encouraged to take action at a time in their lives when reduced fees and compounding returns can provide the most optimal benefit for financial wellbeing at retirement. A two-stage qualitative approach incorporating interviews alongside a netnographic study is proposed. The constructs arising from the data collection will aid in the development of a financial wellbeing framework as well as behavioural segmentation personas.

What have I done so far?

I've conducted 20 one-on-one interviews with Australian women. We talked about their financial influences, their history with money, their approach to risk and their interest in investing and superannuation. It took me four months and I really enjoyed it - though I have to admit that typing up the transcripts was not my favourite part.

I asked for research participants via this blog and my Facebook page, and I have to say I was so surprised by the number of women who not only got in touch with me but were also willing to spend an hour or so of their time sharing their thoughts.

I spoke to women aged 25-39 from a range of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds from all over Australia – and even some Australian women currently working overseas. And while the results are de-identified, I was really humbled by the candour in which they revealed their experiences, concerns and ideas about their financial situations to me.

What's next?

I'm in the process of analysing these interviews and will use them to write up my first research chapter, and also publish this in an academic journal. I will also soon do more interviews where I'll be talking to women about how they use online social networks to garner information about personal finance. At the same time, I'll be conducting netnography research to understand how Australian millennial women are engaging with personal finance online social networks to build their financial capability around superannuation.