Tell me what you want, what you really really want: my research project on women and money

For a while now, people have been asking me to help them with various aspects of finances. Some have said, “Your next book needs to address this topic.” Others have told me, “I need you to help me with this area over here – it’s a struggle.”

So, I started to work on the curriculum for a series of public courses aimed at women. Since I’ve been developing this material for companies and organizations who have hired me to do workshops for their groups, it was a natural extension of my work.

But as I began hammering out the material, it dawned on me that I needed more data. Sure, I’ve got more than ten years of helping people repair their financial issues and I’ve spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of women about their challenges, but I may nonetheless not be creating the right content required for effective change.

In order to ensure that I’m solving the right problems, presenting information that will be effective at helping women grow their financial knowledge and confidence, I needed more specific data.

100 Women Project

I decided to test three hypotheses, that underpin my work and my assumptions, through a series of 100 interviews with women using the questionnaire you see below.

Why 100? It’s simple: That’s a sufficiently large number to give me a good sense of the validity of my hypotheses. In order to achieve true statistical significance, I would need to control for a variety of factors, but that’s not what I’m after. If I hear the same issues popping up repeatedly over a series of 100 interviews, then I know that there is a problem worth solving.

That’s the crux of it all: Is there a problem worth solving?

Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses said something interesting around the concept of statistical significance, that goes like this: If ten out of ten people tell you your idea is terrible, that’s significant.

For my application, if I’m setting out to teach a core area of finances but few people bring it up as an issue, then I’m solving the wrong problem.

Ash Maurya, author of Running  Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works suggests interviewing 30-60 people. He advises stopping when you start hearing the same issue surface over and over again.

I want to interview at least one hundred women to get a solid sense of the challenges women they face and where they want help, if at all.

I need your help

Since I first wrote about my project on social media roughly two weeks ago, I have booked fifty-four interviews and completed forty of them. I still need to interview roughly fifty women, so I’m asking for your help to spread the word to women you know.

I am not looking for intimate information about earnings, debt, or anything else of that nature. I’m after big-picture information. It takes 20-30 minutes, and our conversation is strictly confidential.

To set your mind at ease about the nature of my questions, I have published the questionnaire below.

What’s in it for you?

All women who participate will benefit in the following ways:

  • They alone will discover my hypotheses, which will be revealed to the interview group once my project is complete.
  • I will create a closed Facebook group where I will share the broad findings and trends from the interviews. There will be no personal detail here, just big-picture “what did Doris discover” information, which will doubtless confirm that whatever challenges you face, if any, you are not alone.
  • If an interviewee is not on Facebook, I’m happy to share all the information via email.
  • The interviewees will get a first look at the curriculum content I create and they will be able to provide critical feedback.
  • The women who participate will be able to help direct the content of the educational courses I create and in so doing, ensure that their particular areas of interest are included.

To participate, all you have to do is reach out to me via email – – and let me know of your interest. I will speak to any woman who lives in Canada or the US.

Interviews can be done in-person if you’re in Ottawa, by Skype/Google Hangout, or by phone – it’s your choice.

My profound gratitude goes out to the women who have already participated or who are queued up for an interview, and my thanks to you for your help getting the word out about my project.

Stay tuned for the results and remember, you have to participate to get the scoop on the data!

Interview Questions:

1. When it comes to finances, who does the following in your family (i.e. you, your spouse/partner, or a mix):

  • Pay bills
  • Manage bank accounts
  • Investing
  • Set up protective documents such as a will, POA, insurance, etc (If you don’t have these documents, who would be most likely to take the lead on obtaining them?)

2. Did the division of tasks evolve organically or did you have a discussion about who would do which task?

3. How would you describe your relationship with money? Is it positive, negative (i.e. a source of stress) or neutral?

4. Has it always been like this (i.e. when you were growing up)?

5. Did your parents talk with you openly about money and did they teach you how to do things like budget, save money, etc?

6. What do you consider to be your financial strong points – the areas where you feel confident, that you’re doing a great job – and which areas do you wish you knew more about or where you feel a bit weaker?

7. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “not at all confident” and 10 is “I’m a rock star”, how confident do you feel about the following:

  • Knowing how to protect yourself financially
  • Knowing how to make money or grow your income
  • Knowing how to manage money
  • Knowing how to invest and grow your money

8. In the areas above in which you gave yourself a lower rating out of 10, how are you currently addressing those areas? Do you have a solution or approach to deal with those? If so, how well is that solution addressing your needs?

9. If you haven’t dealt with those self-described weaker areas, what’s getting in the way? What obstacles or roadblocks do you face?

10. Are there any aspects of money or finances, beyond those above, that you wish you could strengthen/know more about/understand better?

11. If I told you that you get to choose the content for my next workshop and you can make it about any topic you like, what would it be? What would you have me teach? What specific issues would you have me address?

12. If you were to take that course, would it be important to you that it be a women-only setting or is it irrelevant?

13. Is there an area of finances that I haven’t covered or any topic that I haven’t addressed and that you’d like me to consider?

That’s it!

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