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The gender pay gap in super

Why we need to improve superannuation for women

The gender pay gap in super

Why we need to improve superannuation for women

What is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is not just a man and a woman being paid differently for the same job. It measures how women and non-binary people often end up with less money, compared to men.

And since your superannuation payments are based on your pay, a gender pay gap over your lifetime leads to a gender superannuation gap.

Our research shows some of the key causes are:

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Fewer career opportunities

Gender biases in hiring, employment type, pay levels, promotions, and firing all change the types of jobs and industries available for the long term.1 A good example is when we see fewer women working in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

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Caring for others

Whether caring for family or the home, women do more unpaid caring work, which often means part-time or casual paid work instead of full-time.1 When separated, only 1 in 5 single mums is able to work full-time.2 And a big factor is the cost and availability of childcare.

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Divorce, separation, and abuse

In 2021, there were almost as many divorces as marriages.3 Even 5 years after separation, nearly 70% of single mums live on less than half the median household income or only receive a welfare payment.2 And domestic and family violence can make it harder to find and keep a job, or to save money.4

Is the gender pay gap real in Australia? Absolutely.

And we have the stats to prove it. In real terms, Australia's 14% gender pay gap didn't change from 2017 to 2020 (DCA, 2022). This is an unacceptable situation when we know both men and women are equally well-educated (ABS, 2022).

What might be a small difference in graduating salaries can turn into a significant gender super gap by the time we retire.

Gender pay gap stats

Women work an average of 32 hours a week, compared to more than 39 hours a week for men. And there are fewer women in the workplace: 62% of women, compared to 71% of men.5


Gap averaged across all ages8


Gap in senior management1

Super gender gap stats

Taking just 5 years off work between 29–34 can mean $100,000 less in super.6 And while women live 4 years longer on average, they also tend to retire earlier (average 52 years).7


Retirement savings gap9


of older women live in poverty10

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Do you have as much super as a man your age?

If you're curious about how your super stacks up, compare your super balance to the average balance for men and women your age. (The ABS doesn't list data on non-binary people's super.)

How much super should I have?

What can I do to maximise my super as a woman?

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Consider spouse contributions

If you're on a low income and have a spouse or partner, see if they can help grow your super with a spouse contribution or super splitting.

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Protect your finances

Ask for that raise, since your super is based on your pay, and check that your super is going into your account regularly. And if you've granted access for other people to view your super, like your accountant or lawyer, make sure you keep these details up-to-date and remove access once it's no longer needed.

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Do you have insurance?

Check you have insurance on your super account in case a serious illness or injury means you can't work.

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Take advantage of government payments

When you're on a low income, the government may give you a co-contribution or a tax offset (LISTO) when you add a little extra to your super. If you're on a higher income, salary sacrifice may be an option instead.

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Compare investment options

Switch investment options if you're not in the right option for you. The ASX's Australian Investor Study in 2020 found that women take fewer risks when investing, and review their investments less often than men.

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How Australia could fix the gender pay gap

The research shows there are several systemic problems that are causing the gender pay gap and the super gap.

Women In Super recommends public policy changes including paying super on the government's paid parental leave, free childcare, and increasing the LISTO benefit.

What ART does for women

At Australian Retirement Trust, we’re committed to supporting all of our members to reach their retirement goals.

We partner with Make Super Fair, which advocates for the government to improve economic security for women in super and retirement.

Join the conversation by tagging #MakeSuperFair