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After Difficult 2020, New Study Uncovers Over Half of Women Plan to Ask for a Raise in 2021 – And Most Have Financial Plans for Next Five Years

Fourth-annual study by Laurel Road finds positive advancement in financial empowerment amongst women, but still behind that of men NEW...

Published March 04, 2021

Fourth-annual study by Laurel Road finds positive advancement in financial empowerment amongst women, but still behind that of men

NEW YORK – March 4, 2021 – 90% of college-educated women have made specific financial plans for the next five years; however, just over half (54%) say they will ask for a raise this year, compared to three quarters (75%) of college-educated men, according to a new study by Laurel Road, a digital lending platform and brand of KeyBank. This shows signs of strong fiscal confidence amongst women after a difficult year, as in our last year’s study, only 40% of college-educated women planned to ask for a raise.1

The fourth-annual survey from Laurel Road exploring financial literacy and management among 1,000 U.S. college-educated adults2 found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of all respondents agree that women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, with 85% of BIPOC women3 in agreement. Equal pay isn’t all employers can offer to help: 65% of women and 72% of BIPOC women wish their employer would do more to help them improve their financial knowledge.

“Despite the enormous and disproportionate economic setbacks that women have been dealt over the past year, from loss of income to balancing work and family responsibilities, our study found that the vast majority of women are focused on the future and empowered to achieve their financial goals,” said Alyssa Schaefer, Chief Experience Officer of Laurel Road. “Women must harness this resiliency and strength into confidence to ask for what they need – be it balancing personal and professional goals or the raise they deserve.”

Women of Color Most Motivated & Hungry for Financial Knowledge

A majority of BIPOC women surveyed felt behind on their personal finances (80%), consistent with other data indicating how this group has been disproportionately disadvantaged by the pandemic. But looking ahead, the study revealed an overwhelming 93% of BIPOC women have specific financial plans for the next five years.

When looking at specific five-year priorities, BIPOC women also have bigger plans on average than the collective group of college-educated men and women:

Within the next five years, which of the following, if any, do you plan to do?

BIPOC Women Women Men
Improving credit scores 43% 30% 30%
Paying down credit card debt 40% 33% 27%
Paying off student loans 29% 19% 11%
Investing in real estate or home ownership 28% 22% 20%


The Balancing Act: Work, Caregiving and COVID-19

When reflecting on COVID-19, 61% of men feel their work situation has been impacted, compared to 50% of women. The top impact for both men (21%) and women (21%) has been taking on more responsibilities with the same pay.

The survey also explored how parents are navigating balancing work and childcare responsibilities before the pandemic is over. While 72% of dads indicate that childcare responsibilities have impacted their work, only 42% of moms and 39% of BIPOC moms indicated the same.4

Interestingly, when asked about concerns with managing childcare and work responsibilities before the pandemic is over, dads are most concerned about needing to reduce their hours to manage childcare (29%), but the top concern for moms is the stress of managing both childcare and work impacting their job performance (30%).5

Employers Can Do More to Narrow Pay Gap

The survey showed that men and women have different views regarding their employer’s role in creating equal and transparent pay policies. In fact, 71% of women, compared to 84% of men, feel their employer is transparent about pay policies.

Similarly, women are looking for more help from their employers: half (50%) of women say their employer isn’t doing all they can to narrow the gender pay gap—and this is especially true for BIPOC women (58%).

A Confidence Crisis Persists

Both men and women feel behind on their personal financial goals (74%). However, similar to 2020 survey results, this year’s study revealed that women feel more comfortable with short-term finances, such as managing their household finances (92%), but less so with long-term strategies like an investment: less than three quarters (73%) of women are confident in their ability to invest money smartly, compared to 87% of men.

To shed further light on these issues and help women take action, Laurel Road will be bringing together personal finance and entrepreneurial experts for a conversation on financial literacy and equal pay at Create & Cultivate’s 2021 Money Moves Digital Summit. Follow Laurel Road on Instagram for further updates.


The Laurel Road Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. college-educated adults, with oversamples of 1,000 female respondents and 500 female BIPOC respondents, between February 1st and February 10th, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey. The data has been weighted to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. college-educated adult, college-educated women and college-educated BIPOC women populations.

About Laurel Road

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $7 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products, mortgages and personal loans that helps simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The mortgage product is not offered in Puerto Rico. KeyBank is a Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. NMLS ID # 399797.


Media Contact:
KWT Global for Laurel Road
[email protected]


1Laurel Road’s 2020 survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. college-educated adults, with 50% of respondents who have a graduate degree.

2Laurel Road’s 2021 survey The Laurel Road Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. college-educated adults, with over samples of 1,000 female respondents and 500 female BIPOC respondents.

3For this survey, BIPOC was defined and screened as anyone who is Hispanic, African American, or Native American. Excluded from this group are Asian Americans (non-Hispanic) and White or Caucasian (non-Hispanic).

4 Represents results from respondents indicating they are parents.

5Represents results from respondents indicating they are parents and employed.

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