Published by the Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra

BroadAgenda

Research and Stories through a Gendered Lens

Profile series – inspiring women: Bomikazi Zeka

May 21, 2024 | Career, Money and Finance, Business, Research, Profile, Gender, Feature, Academic Spotlight

Written by Ginger Gorman and Sarah Grieb

BroadAgenda is featuring a short series of profiles on amazing women and LGBTIQ + folks. You’re about to meet Dr Bomikazi Zeka. She’s an Assistant Professor in Finance and Financial Planning with the Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra.

If you were sitting next to someone at a dinner party, how would you explain your work and research in a nutshell? 

I’ve always wondered why women receive the short end of the stick when it comes to our financial outcomes. I often found myself asking questions like why do women have lower savings rates then men? Why are older women more likely to be impoverished? Why does parenthood financially penalise women more than men?

I want to know the answers to these questions which is why so much of my work focuses on understanding how women’s social identities influence their financial outcomes. More broadly my work takes an intersectional approach to understand how parts of our identity such as race, age, gender, culture, marital status, family dynamics and employment influences women’s savings trajectories, financial security, and financial independence.

What are you currently working on that’s making you excited or that has legs?

I recently published an article for The Conversation on ‘Financial abuse from an intimate partner? Three ways you can protect yourself’. I was both terrified and excited about putting this out there because it’s such a difficult topic to broach. As much as we’ve been making huge strides in highlighting the challenges women face when it comes to financial planning, we also need to talk about this silent assassin called ‘financial abuse’ which jeopardises our safety.

Most people still think of financial abuse as something that only occurs within marriages or romantic partnerships, but it can happen in families too (between siblings or children and parents). When money becomes entangled within our personal relationships, it can become an incredibly difficult situation to navigate.

This is why I want to educate people about the signs of financial abuse which is the first step to empowering yourself and getting away from that situation.   

Let’s wind back the clock a bit. Why did you go into this field?  What was compelling about it? 

I remember getting pocket money as a child which I suppose was my parents’ way of teaching me how to manage money. But I also remember my parents borrowing my pocket money to pay for something and promising to pay it back with interest. I loved the idea of making more money from lending money and it made much more sense than being paid to do chores! Somewhere along the way I started to realise that the scales are unbalanced and despite working for money, many people are still left disadvantaged.

What impact do you hope your work has?  

My dream is to demystify and destigmatize conversations about money because I believe in the old adage that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. When we get to a place when we can talk openly about finances, ask questions and share knowledge freely with one another we can hopefully start changing attitudes about money talk. There are too many people that are scared, embarrassed and perhaps even ashamed to admit they aren’t sure how to approach things when it comes to personal finances. While I understand why people may feel this way, burying your head in the sand won’t make those emotions and problems go away.

So, if you know a thing or two about money, I’d encourage you to pass that knowledge on. Tell a friend, talk to your kids, siblings or cousins – you could even offer to mentor someone if you have the knowledge and skills to do so. We all have a part to play, and you never know whose life you might change by simply sharing what you know.

As they say, knowledge is power, and when you know better, you do better, and in turn those around you become better too! And isn’t that what empowerment is all about?

Do you view yourself as feminist researcher? Why? Why not? What does the word mean to you in the context of your own values, and also your work? 

Oh definitely! Among other things, feminism is also about women having equal access to economic opportunities and being able to use those opportunities to achieve financial security. And when we get to that point, we should be unapologetic about it because everyone deserves equal access and financial security.

What have you discovered in your work that has most surprised or enchanted you?  

Before I started doing research on women’s financial planning, I’d never truly understood the extent to which our gender can affect our financial outcomes.

Learning that so many factors negatively impact women compared to men and the cumulative effect this has on our personal finances deeply resonated with me.

It’s obviously not a pleasant surprise, but it was a huge eye-opener for me because I never considered how inequality in one area of our lives can result in inequality in other areas. For example, someone who is experiencing job insecurity is also likely to have inadequate access to health care, experience food insecurity, have difficulty with transportation access as well as deal with housing insecurity. This is not even to mention the toll this all takes on our mental health which creates another obstacle for a person to contend with.

Is there anything else you want to say?  

There’s so much that we take at face value when it comes to women’s finances, but when we consider how social and economic identities play a role, we start scratching the surface. After we understand this, then we can find a more nuanced approach to help women achieve their financial goals and figure out how to help the next generation of women.

Ginger Gorman is a fearless and multi award-winning social justice journalist and feminist. Ginger’s bestselling book, Troll Hunting, came out in 2019. Since then, she’s been in demand both nationally and globally as an expert on cyberhate and the real-life harm predator trolling can do. She's also the editor of BroadAgenda and gender editor at HerCanberra. Ginger hosts the popular "Seriously Social" podcast for the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Follow her on Twitter.

Sarah Grieb is studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media (Journalism)/Bachelor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Canberra. She is currently interning at BroadAgenda and works at ABC Canberra as a radio producer and Network Operations Assistant.

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