On female voices and representation in the financial independence community

Late last Wednesday, Angela from Tread Lightly, Retire Early published a post that was a list of female bloggers in the FI world. I was honored to be on the original list of approximately 30 women, and I also could think of a few off the top of my head that didn’t make the list. And then I thought of a few more.

Before I knew what was happening, Angela and I were frantically messaging back and forth about the list. She said she was sorry she hadn’t asked me to take a look at the list before she published it (not that she had any way of knowing I’d be so helpful about adding in people she missed!); and we decided we’d work together to get everyone we could think of on the list, including the women who commented and asked to be added.

Looking at the list does not tell you what went on behind the scenes or our experience of expanding it. Here’s some of what went into that undertaking.

Categorization

One of the first big decisions we made was to categorize the list to make it easier to find people and so it wasn’t a straight wall of text, listed alphabetically by blog name (also I appreciate non-alphabetical lists since “Reaching for FI” tends to land in the forgettable middle of the pack 😉).

There was lots of back and forth about which categories to include (we decided on FIRE, FIOR (optional retirement), debt repayment, and general finance) and whether to do any sub-categories (bloggers over 50, since there are so few of them? Women with kids?). We eventually decided on subdividing the four categories into SINK (single income, no kids), DINK (double income, no kids), SIK (single income, kids), and DIK (double income, kids) to make it easier to find people in life stages you’re interested in reading about.

Once we decided on the categories and that a Google doc would be the best way to share the info to work on the list, then came the huge task of making the list of blogs and then categorizing them. This project utterly consumed both of our lives for about 48 hours, and Angela updated her post with the expanded list on Friday.

This is an ongoing project: the list will need to be updated as new blogs appear or as people stop blogging. People will combine finances with their partners; they may find themselves single; their family may drop down to a single income (case in point, the Adventure Rich family!); they may have kids, and so on. All of these events mean those women will need to be moved into different categories.

Self-selection bias(?) and aspirations

So there are more FI blogger ladies than either of us expected when we started expanding Angela’s original post. Hello, bias! But once we sorted out this list of nearly 100 female bloggers, there were way fewer of them in the FIRE/FIOR categories than we’d expected, and many in the general finance category.

There’s that stat that men are way more likely to apply for jobs they aren’t qualified for than women are. There’s some nuance to that statistic, explained in detail in this article (many thanks to both Ms. Financier and the badasses of Bitches Get Riches for helpfully sending that my way). I have to wonder if some of this self-selection bias is playing out here. I reached out to a few of the bloggers I’ve interacted with to double-check that I was categorizing them properly and had some interesting conversations.

Jane from Cash Fasting said:

“If you’re referring specifically to blog content though, I’m closest to general finance – I’m too far away from FI to dedicate a large portion of my content to it 😭😂”

Same, Jane, same.

When I asked Revanche if she wanted to be categorized as FIRE or general finance, she said FIRE—as more of an aspiration than current situation. And then we had a conversation about that choice and how I’d seen people making the opposite decision because FIRE is an aspirational thing instead of the current reality.

“I didn’t categorize myself as FIRE when I entered into the [Rockstar Finance] Directory because it’s ONE of the things I talk about and for the directory, I thought it made sense to be more accurate about what I write about a lot: everything money – family stuff, personal stuff, professional stuff, AND the FIRE stuff. FIRE is integral to everything I do but it’s not an obvious thing I talk about constantly.”

This is exactly my situation: I’m general finance in Rockstar. I’m so far away from FIRE or even FI that it feels like a joke sometimes, and I write about way more than that here. But Revanche and I both agreed that the women in FI list feels different from the RSF personal finance blog directory, and we’re both categorized under the aspirational goal of FIRE.

I’m one of a very few single women pursuing FIRE (um, go us, ladies!), which feels sometimes often like applying for a job I’m not qualified for. But dammit, FIRE’s my goal anyway.

So, women of the FI community, this list is absolutely about how you want to be categorized, not what you feel you should say because of blog content. If you’re in general finance and want to get moved to FIRE or FIOR, let us know and we’ll make that change happen.

Angela also started a Facebook group for us, which you can find here.

Reception

Angela can tell you more about the stats than I can because she’s the one who has seen the traffic coming to her post. But she’s shared some of it with me and we’ve both been blown away by the reception.

As I told her, I’m totally kicking myself for not thinking of doing this list myself—there’s J’s list of the non-male engineer FIRE bloggers, various other lists people have done on their blogs (most of which contain the heavy hitters and/or blogs that person reads), and the whole list of bloggers in the Rockstar Finance directory. But why didn’t I realize there was no list specifically of the women who blog in a space that’s generally considered to be the domain of men?

We also didn’t realize just how big of a void this list has filled until seeing the response. The reaction from the women of the community has been absolutely overwhelming, and for both of us it’s made us both incredibly happy and mad that this is a thing that was so badly needed.

Challenge to the male community

While the post has been widely shared among the women of the personal finance world, the reaction from the men has been…subdued.

Some have retweeted or shared the list, and we really appreciate that! But the shares and comments have been overwhelmingly female. Angela shared the list in a FIRE Facebook group on Sunday, and as of this writing, just 2 of the 74 likes on the post were from men. That’s approximately three percent of the likes, and I’m willing to bet a lot of money that the group is more than 3% male.

I do, however, want to give a shoutout to PFGeeks, who has tweeted out the link to the list, shared it on the ChooseFI Facebook group, and submitted it to Rockstar Finance for consideration. That’s going above and beyond.

Men of the FI community, I challenge you to not only read the list, but to engage with it in some way. Share it with your followers. Start a conversation about it. Send over any blogs we might have missed! And, most importantly, regularly read some women’s blogs (and not just the well-known ones that everyone reads).

Military Dollar has estimated that the PF world is approximately 40% female. Make sure you’re reading and engaging with us. And as J said on Twitter, there’s no longer any excuse for claiming you can’t think of/find any women to read, to be on your panels, to be on your blogroll lists, or to be on your podcasts.

Two partners are better than one?

As a single woman, I sometimes think enviously about how in general being partnered up makes becoming FI easier: it obviously isn’t the case for everyone, but it’s likely to mean there are two incomes coming in and you can split costs and therefore save more money.

Let me tell you, that was not the case with this project! It was such a huge undertaking that even splitting it up meant I spent WAY more time on it than I ever do writing a blog post on my own. That’s not how this is supposed to work!

I jest. Despite completely consuming two entire days of my life (especially because we were under the pressure of the post already being out there and shared so we wanted to get the update out as soon as possible), I’m so glad I had this opportunity. It was fun, and I learned about many new blogs I’d never heard of before. The experience sparked a lot of thinking, much of which became this post.

(It’s also a good reminder to myself that many times I am an all-or-nothing person, which is sometimes a blessing when I’m doing something I’m passionate about and sometimes a curse. Know thyself. Build in breaks for thyself so you don’t get burnt out. Also feed thyself regularly, even if you’re in the writing/blog admin/women of FI list groove!)

Many thanks to Angela for letting me work on this list with her. We’re proud of it. You should go read it.

44 Replies to “On female voices and representation in the financial independence community”

  1. It was so exciting to see this list grow and expand so quickly! The homogeneity of the typical FIRE discussion (picked up in media, on podcasts) can be isolating and discouraging. One of the biggest joys I have experienced in sharing my thoughts has been the opportunity to meet so many incredibly diverse folks striving for a better financial situation personally…and educating others along the way.

    Thank you for sharing this – I was curious to know more about what was going on behind the scenes! And high five to both of you for putting so much energy towards the initial upgrade. <3

    1. It would be so boring if we were all from the same backgrounds and doing the same thing, so let’s celebrate the fact that there are as many different paths as there are bloggers! I love that the list helps highlight that.

      Thank you! It was a ton of energy, but it was so worth it 🙂

    1. Hahaha I cannot imagine having done all that by yourself, so I’m doubly glad I was there to help! 😅

      Absolutely, and I love that I’m still discovering new blogs from the list!

  2. Yup, yup, and more yup. I think it’s so important for us to all remember that if we have a microphone, we should let others speak into it. It’s great to let your voice be heard but amplifying others is where the real magic and power of this community is and can be.

  3. The other day, I was evaluating how much progress I’ve made towards FIRE, and I estimated that I’m 1% of the way there since I started my journey a year ago. 1%! I do agree that there’s nothing wrong with an aspiration categorization and that women are less likely to do so (after all, that’s exactly what I did >.<).
    I'm glad you covered this. Looking at Angela's compiled list, I had a similar takeaway. It doesn't seem all that bad when you're talking about one blog at a time, but it definitely adds up. Ladies unite! Let's all start focusing on where we want to go instead of where we are now. 🙃

    1. Oy, 1% over a year. That’s a depressing statistic. (But maybe it’ll pick up as you get more and more compound interest working for you?)

      It’ll be interesting to see over time if people decide they want to be recategorized as they do start focusing on where they want to go!

  4. The list was not only a fantastic idea but it was also super inspiring. Firstly, for personal finance blogging more broadly, as it’s very reassuring to see that there’s representation by both genders.

    However, I found it more amazing from a general societal perspective – it shows that we ladies are grabbing our finances by both hands and leading the way in how to deal with it! This wouldn’t necessarily be the case in not-so-distant decades, at least not on as broad a scale, so it’s fantastic to see all these women stepping up and leading the way in how to manage OUR money!

    1. You’re right, it’s definitely amazing how many women are managing their money, and that’s just the ones blogging about it! You could make a case that had the internet really existed 20 years ago, all the FI bloggers would be male, but that’s certainly not the case anymore.

  5. Thank you for dedicating the last couple days to putting together this list. It’s so important and it makes me so happy to see it grow! I’m also disappointed in some of my male blogger friends that I see ignoring this piece of content. For the ones that I see have liked, shared and retweeted it – THANK YOU!

    1. Watching the list grow even as we were working on it was one of the most rewarding things about the whole experience 🙂

  6. You two ladies are amazing and I love you! Thank you for dedicating so much time and thought and effort to this. And also, damn you both, because now I will be doing nothing but reading blogs for 80% of my conscious hours from now on!! ♡

  7. Great post Erin. I recommended OMGF in the original post before it was on the list but turns out the woman behind that blog also started a podcast, so she should be on the podcast list too. She only has one episode but I listened to it and it was very engaging.

  8. I was so pleased to see this list expand so much. I am one of the rare over 50 single ladies with kids ( and dogs) and I know through talking with my friends and work colleagues that there are far more women handling finances and plotting and planning their way to retirement than the blogosphere would seem to suggest.
    It’s been very interesting to ferret around in other women’s blogs. The similarities and differences between us all make for very engaging reading.
    Women are pretty darned awesome, if I do say so myself! 🤩

    1. That’s awesome that you know a ton of women in real life are taking control of their finances! And women are most certainly pretty darned awesome!

  9. You ladies are seriously amazing for tackling this project. I loved the idea when I initially read Angela’s post and am so impressed with how you’ve grown it.

    I think it’s important for women to band together and lift eachother up. Finance can be so male dominated, both blogging and in the real world, but highlighting other voices is a big step in leveling the playing field.

    1. Haha there was definitely a note in the Google doc on your row about “the AR family belongs here now!!!” in the SIK category. We got excited for you all over again 🙂

    1. We might go back and add some signifier later, just because there aren’t that many of you and I know lots of people can’t relate to those of us in our 20s. So I’m sure they’d love to be reading blogs of people who are closer to traditional retirement age!

  10. Thank you for all the tremendous work you put into this! I’m stunned with how many people are on the list–and had no idea there were that many of us. There are even some names on there I didn’t know about and now need to read ASAP.

    When I first saw the list, I was like, wait, I want to change my category! It’s interesting to see the thought processes for why people chose certain categories. For me, I might not write about FI, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something I aspire to. I’d like to save enough where I have that option. However, I mostly write about basic topics on the site because those are the ppl I think need the most help. So, I’m not going to write about tax strategies (even if I’m engaging in that stuff myself), because that’s not my audience.

    And I think I could have gotten to FI more quickly if I was single. Everybody says it’s easier with a partner, but I’ve found we have a lot more expenses as a couple.

    1. There aren’t enough hours in the week to catch up on all the amazing blogs! And your categorization definitely makes sense for your audience.

      Interesting, although that’s not the first time I’ve heard someone say their expenses went up when they combined with their partner, even though they were splitting the big things.

  11. Thanks so much Erin for adding and elaborating to the list, I just checked it out again it grew like 20x and it is super organized and categorized!

    131 comments+++- girl power!!

  12. The list was amazing-thanks so much to both of you for working on it! I wish a more diverse selection of female PF bloggers were picked up by the traditional media like men are. There are so many amazing women coming from different backgrounds and life experiences, and their voices will resonate with different people.

    1. Agreed—even beyond the PF world not being solely comprised of men, there are so many different women from all walks of life! It would be nice to see that acknowledged more.

  13. Well done and thanks for all your efforts in getting the list together.

    I have to say it is a bit disconcerting to see top x FIRE bloggers, and then seeing they are 90% male… one of the many reasons we need to get the gender pay gap sorted and allow men the opportunity to be caregivers.

    1. Agreed, it’s totally frustrating to see the top lists time and time again be comprised of men’s blogs.

      Thanks for reading!

  14. Thanks for all the work in putting the list together! I enjoyed how you called out male finance bloggers. I imagine a large part is them simply not knowing all those blogs existed (as I didn’t know).

    1. I learned about so many new-to-me blogs while putting the list together. But the beauty of it is that there’s now a list so they can’t say they don’t know anymore!

  15. Thank you for this follow-up post Erin! I had been following the activity around the list but since I can’t really peg myself as FIRE I wasn’t sure it made sense to me to be a part of the list.

    You and Angela have done a fantastic job in listing down all the Rockstar women blogging in this space.

    1. Thank you! We didn’t want to restrict it specifically to FIRE people (what does that even mean? People who are already retired early? People within 5 years of it? 10 years?) so knew we wanted a general finance category. 🙂

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