Women in the News: Of Old Age and Memorable Body Parts|
Retirement Communities and Bingo Afternoons
Have you started saving for your retirement yet? If not, you should put at least some change under the mattress or in a piggy bank and then sit down to make a savings plan. This sounds like something your parents would say during a family dinner but their concern is legitimate: A new study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office shows that women are at a much higher risk to spend their retirement living in poverty. What’s even more troubling, according to Americans for a Secure Retirement, a single female with an income of $50,000 a year and without a benefit plan faces an 82% chance that she’ll outlive her financial assets in retirement.
Women, on average, earn less during their careers than men do; so they naturally start out with less savings once they retire. Even if there are regular contributions and employer-sponsored retirement plans, women often don’t invest their money as aggressively as men and might miss out on a potential increase of their funds.
A similar observation can be made when looking at contributions to retirement savings: Women tend to make smaller contributions over a shorter period of time. All of this adds up – and just not in the bank account.
Another reason for smaller savings is the fact that women often have breaks in their careers – they take time off work to look after children or elderly relatives, they are only employed part-time or “retire” earlier. Last but not least, women tend to live longer than men – meaning that the bank of total savings has to last even longer.
It’s crucial to be aware of the financial risks and responsibilities later in life and (cue parents’ finger wagging) think long term in an uncertain economy. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you are still paying off college loans. But let’s put it this way: The early bird catches the worm – while driving a golf cart to the retirement community’s bingo afternoon.
Now let’s focus on the more optimistic present.
Science with Barbie and Ken: Looking at the Bigger Picture
Sexual Objectification is real. Unfortunately, that’s neither something new nor something particularly shocking. We usually blame it on hormones or genes but researchers found a surprising new culprit: our brain.
A recent study published by the European Journal of Social Psychology examined the objectification of women from the point of view of the brain. The good news: Everyone processes images of both men and women differently so we’re equally guilty of objectification. That also leads to the bad news: Yes it’s scientific, our brain objectifies women. When we look at pictures of people, our brains see men and female body parts. When we look at an image of a man, we mainly focus on him as a person, in his entirety – the fancy word for the water cooler is “global cognitive processing.” When we look at the image of a woman on the other hand, we mainly perceive her as (body) parts and not as a whole – this is called “local cognitive processing.” So it’s like having Barbie’s body parts and her fully assembled boyfriend Ken.
Speaking of Barbie: these processes in the brain can be observed no matter how attractive the people in the images were. Bikini or sweat pants, it’s all the same.
Researchers think that this behavior and the different perceptions have something to do with evolution but agree that the media amplified our behavior, especially since everyone’s brain does it. The good news: our brains can be trained to focus on global or local processing and objectify less.
If we practice and readjust our perception, we can put Barbie back together. Or take Ken apart.