New Research from Wells Fargo and the Female Quotient Explores Taboo Topics, Secret Numbers, and Differing Gender and Generations’ Relationships to Money

For National Financial Wellness Month, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) and The Female Quotient (The FQ) are releasing the findings from a new research study conducted by The FQ, “Our Secret Numbers: Women, Men, and the Taboo Nature of Financial Health.” The research explores taboo topics ranging from age and weight to salary and credit score to spending and financial savings — and how women and men and different age groups approach money and financial health.

“ Wells Fargo partnered with The Female Quotient to dig deep into how women and men approach financial topics differently,” said Krista Phillips, Executive Vice President, Head of Consumer Cards and Marketing at Wells Fargo. “As women, we are conditioned to believe that talking about money is rude, but the best way to learn about anything is to talk about it – and we aren’t talking about it enough. This mindset ends up restricting women’s financial growth, investment opportunities, and earning potential.”

Taboo Talk

Research participants were asked how they feel discussing taboo topics such as their age, weight, salary, and credit score. The data shows close similarities between men and women when it comes to talking about topics once considered taboo. However, the findings reveal significant differences when it comes to how men and women discuss money and finances. Women feel less comfortable discussing finances, with over 40% stating they have a stressful relationship with money.

“Every woman deserves the power to control her own finances, but too many are shackled by anxiety,” said Shelley Zalis, Founder and CEO, The Female Quotient. “Our partnership with Wells Fargo digs into women’s financial struggles, revealing a stark confidence gap. Unlike men, women aren’t as comfortable discussing money as their careers progress. As women climb the ladder, their voices are drowned out, while men boast about their paychecks. It’s high time for women to speak up, shatter the silence, and own their financial narratives.”

Additional Key Findings: 

  • Gen Z (53%) are significantly more likely to say that men have more opportunities to be financially successful than women (compared to 42% Millennials, 42% Gen X, 45% Boomers)
  • Men are significantly happier and more confident in their financial abilities than women, despite financial health being as important to both
    • “I am happy with my financial situation”: 58% men, 42% women
    • “I am confident in my financial management”: 65% men, 51% women
    • “Financial health is important to living my life”: 76% men, 74% women
  • Men are significantly more likely than women to talk about their financial health with a financial professional
    • 29% men, 20% women
  • Employed men’s comfortability discussing debt grows as they progress to more senior levels, but that linear progression lacks for employed women
    • “I’m more comfortable talking about my debt now than I used to be”
      • Women (declines over time): 50% entry level, 52% mid‑level, 46% senior level
      • Men (increases over time): 57% entry level, 61% mid‑level, 67% senior level
  • Men are more likely to say they are primarily responsible for financial decisions in their married or partnered household, while women are more likely to say they share the responsibility equally
    • “It’s my responsibility”: 39% women, 60% men
    • “I equally share responsibility”: 42% women, 28% men


The Female Quotient collected online data among a sample of 3,206 men and women aged 21 or older from Oct. 5‑17, 2023. Quotas and weighting were established to ensure the sample’s composition reflects the population of interest including gender, generation, employment status, marital status, career level, and financial situation sentiment. In addition, 12 online focus groups were conducted from Aug. 21‑24, 2023.

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