Why is getting a good super balance more difficult for women

The gender divide is real when it comes to superannuation, we explore some of the reasons why

Good super balance
If you’re reading this, there’s a fair chance that you’ve heard this before: women generally retire with lower superannuation balances than men. Often reasons for this imbalance are blamed on the gender pay gap, or the fact that women are more likely to work part time. It can be a tricky subject to discuss, when some hold the viewpoint that most women rely on their partners for retirement income. Especially for women with a partner and children, it can be difficult to discuss or think about a situation in which they’d have to live out their old age without any family support.

Why do women retire with less super than men?

If you are a woman, or if you know a woman who’s close to retirement, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the risk factors. When you’re aware of what can keep a woman’s super balance down, you may be able to plan to avoid these hurdles. A report from Per Capita, an independent think tank, has outlined some of the major contributors: 

Part time and casual work / self-employment

Women are more likely to take on part time or casual work during their lifetime, especially if they have kids.

Inadequate Age Pension

The reason the Age Pension comes in to this is that it can be a reason why women might not pay attention to their super – they may think the Age Pension will cover them adequately.

Gender pay gap

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, although it is decreasing, in 2022, the gender pay gap is still 14%1. That means women get lower employer contributions, and don’t have as much to salary sacrifice.

Carer responsibilities

Women are still more likely than men to take responsibility for the care of disabled, sick or elderly relatives.

Unpaid domestic work

Although things are changing, the women of each household still spend more time on domestic work (shopping, cooking, cleaning etc.) than the men.  

Age discrimination

Amongst other age-related factors, women may find it hard to get work later in life, when they most need the money to boost their super balances.

Tax conditions

Tax concessions for super are slowly being scaled back. What’s more, given certain tax benefits are income tested, women with working partners who come back to work after having children may be at a disadvantage if they lose access to those concessions.

Living longer

Simply put, a woman’s super has to last longer because stats suggest she’ll live longer.

Poor financial literacy

Some women don’t have the background skills they need to make smart decisions about their superannuation, or about retirement in general.

Childcare costs/availability

In some areas childcare availability is low and pricing can be high, leading to some women feeling dissuaded from going back to work full time after having children. And a longer break from the Workforce means a longer break from getting super contributions.

Relationship breakdowns

No one wants to consider a future with a relationship breakdown, however if that happens, there may not be means to fund retirement.

You can read the full report at

Related tips 

How to plan for retirement
Having strategies in place to build your retirement savings as much as possible before you retire is an important step towards helping you enjoy your golden years.
Three ways you could boost your super
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