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200 years of women and finance

Timeline of key milestones for women 1815-2015 click to view larger imageTo mark the 200th anniversary of Scottish Widows in January 2015, we have created a unique paper exploring and celebrating the evolution of women’s finances over the last two centuries.

Starting in an Edinburgh coffee house in 1815 to support women left widowed in Scotland after the Napoleonic Wars, Scottish Widow continues to put women at the centre of what we do. The 200-year milestone offered the ideal opportunity to take stock of our journey.

As part of the story, we have tracked down the living descendants of those that Scottish Widows was originally set up to support - families of the Napoleonic War veterans -  and shared their stories to help explore the journey of women and their finances.

As well as looking back, we have also looked at the present and future for women to see how we can best support them in our bi-centenary year and beyond.  With a study of 2,000 UK women, we have taken the pulse of the UK’s female population when it comes to their finances, looking at everything from notions of financial independence to the glass ceiling at work and childcare responsibilities.

The research found that women’s financial role in the family has evolved significantly in the two centuries since Scottish Widows were founded, and revealed that:

  • Almost 1 in 5 women (17%) are now the main household breadwinner
  • 39% keep finances completely separate from partners when married or cohabiting
  • Half of women living with partners are solely responsible for managing household finances

However, our research also shows that women struggle to maintain this once they have children:

  • More than a third still say having children has limited their financial independence
  • Two in five (42%) women with children said they agreed with their partner to take a backseat in their career to provide childcare
  • 26% of women who live with their partners have sole responsibility for funding childcare

Read our findings and explore the key milestones for women since 1815, as well as the journey women have taken in order to become more financially independent today.