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.
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.
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.