When Bev Sutton and her husband were splitting up in the mid-1970s, she did something that some might see as a little unconventional.

“I said, ‘I’ll take the stock if you want to keep the house.’ That was fine with him, and that’s what I did.”

If you tend to think most women just don’t get involved with investing, you’d best think again. As a female investor who has been doing it on her own for several decades, Sutton is quick to point out: “Not everyone fits the stereotype!”

And it’s true: the image of the woman too timid to get into finance is just that – a stereotype. There are plenty of women out there doing their own investing, especially now that exchange traded funds (ETFs) have made it even easier.

Wachovia Bank’s third annual fitness survey of 2008 revealed that only 30% of women track and manage their retirement assets, compared to 58% of men. The same study revealed that 17% of women make investment decisions, compared with 49% of men.

But female investors are rapidly on the rise, and they’re breaking the conventional mold: they’re not conservative, they’re making their own decisions and they’re taking their futures in their own hands.

Sutton, a retiree in San Francisco, describes herself as self-taught. After her divorce, she stepped into mutual funds. One of her first investments was in a Magellan fund at Fidelity, a company she is still with today.

Recently, she branched out into ETFs. “Mainly, I watch the charts. After you’ve been doing it quite awhile, you get a feel for where some ETFs are probably going to go.”

Getting in can be easy, but getting out is a little less fun. Sutton has her own stop-losses in place, but doesn’t particularly like to use them.

“As soon as you sell, it goes up. But I’ve found that if you don’t, you don’t protect the downside, either.”

Like many investors stung by the recent price spikes in the energy sector, Sutton has her eye on alternative energy. “To me, that’s where things are going to have to go.”

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