Some people find it silly that there are investing guides for women. After all, a stock doesn't know who owns it and doesn't behave differently accordingly. Are there really any differences between men and women when it comes to investing? Well, yes.

For starters, men and women tend to be in at least slightly different positions as they approach investing. Women tend to live longer, so they need their nest eggs to last longer. They also tend to earn less than men do and work for a shorter total period of time in their lives, because of time spent caring for children and others.

The genders tend to have somewhat different investing styles as well. In Bloomberg Personal Finance, business professors Terrance Odean and Brad Barber shared some results of their research, noting that men are more likely to be overconfident investors than women are, trade more actively than women do, and rack up more trading costs. "We find that men trade 45% more actively than women," the writers said. "Single men trade 67% more actively than single women. While both men and women reduce their returns by trading, men reduce theirs by an additional 1%, and single men by an additional 1.4%. If 1% compounded year after year strikes you as an inconsiderable amount, consider the effort you would expend to save 1% on a home mortgage. Overconfident investors underdiversify. If you know you are right, what's the point of hedging your bets?"

So you're more likely, perhaps, to find men stocking up on stocks that are more aggressive, such as BiogenIDEC (NASDAQ:BIIB) (read about it) and Rule Breaker companies, while women may be more likely to snap up shares of stalwarts that tend to be less volatile, such as Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

I recently ran across some new data on this topic, from the National Association of Investors, the investment-club organization. Its "Voice of the American Shareholder" survey found, not surprisingly, that "Men are more active, involved, and willing to take risks." Some other findings:

  • 45% of women surveyed "believe it's a good time for new investors to enter the market, compared with 54% of men."
  • "While both genders say they rely on the Internet (for investing information), 58% of the male participants say it's the best source of information, compared with only 43% of the female respondents. 62% of the male participants say analyst reports are among their main sources of information, along with other people (60%) and financial Web sites (57%). Women rely more on other people, with 79% listing them as a main source of information and 52% saying they're the best sources. Of this group, financial planners are the most prevalent source."
  • "60% of women are saving or investing less because of health-care costs they're paying, compared with 48% of men."
  • Men are much more influenced by the economy when it comes to investing, with 49% of men citing it as a factor vs. 37% of women.

Whether you invest more like a woman or a man, it's clear that many investors look for investing ideas and analysis from outsiders, such as newsletters and financial planners. If you like what you see in Fooldom, give our investing newsletters a whirl for free (they've got good track records so far), and check out our advice on how to find a good financial advisor.

And for more perspective on women and investing, read Bill Mann's article "Think Like a Woman," in which he explains how wives can boost portfolio returns.

L ongtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Wal-Mart.