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 subject?

I'm exploring how Australian millennial women gain self-efficacy in order to build their financial capability and engage in superannuation

What's the potential impact of this research?

This research topic has real-world implications centred on the following evolving issues impacting Australian women now (this list is pretty long, so please bear with me 😏):

  1. Australian women over age 55 are the fastest-growing homeless cohort in Australia (AHRC 2019).

  2. The burden of financial responsibility is increasingly shifting to the individual who is more than likely ill‐prepared to handle the challenge (Warmath and Zimmerman 2019).

  3. Australian women currently retire with 37% less super than Australian men (ABS 2018).

  4. Women of all age groups are more likely to experience economic abuse compared to men (Kutin, Russell and Reid 2017).

  5. Policy efforts to build women’s financial literacy via education need to be complemented by tools to enhance their self-assuredness or self-belief (Farrell, Fry and Risse 2016).

  6. There is a lack of appropriate financial advice providers that women feel comfortable with (Russell, Kutin, Green, Banks and Di Iorio 2016).

  7. Achieving gender equality will help overcome many of the barriers that prevent women from enjoying the same opportunities to build financial wealth as are available to men (Russell, Kutin, Green, Banks and Di Iorio 2016). 

  8. Financial advice from family, friends and colleagues is an important influencing factor for women in the financial decision-making process (Lee, Xu and Hyde 2013). 

  9. Family exerts a strong influence on financial decision making and studies have found women are driven to take action regarding their long-term financial future when seeing a relevant television segment, reading a relevant newspaper article or listening to a relevant radio program (Rickwood and White 2009).

  10. Sources point out that pension systems were historically developed ‘by men with men in mind’ (Basu and Drew 2009).

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 hopefully also publish this in an academic journal. I will also soon submit ethics approval to 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.

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