women and super

On average, women in Australia retire with less money in their super than men do. This is due to a multitude of factors making it difficult for women to accumulate a lot of money for their retirement, including the gender pay gap, the reduced amount of women in full-time positions and the longer average life expectancy of women. 

We will discuss the challenges facing women in building their super as well as the ways in which women can be proactive to overcome these obstacles. Women deserve prosperous retirements, and they can achieve them with the right knowledge and tools.

Why do women retire with less in their super?

The average Australian woman has $45,000 in her super, while the average Australian man has $65,000. With the gap at $20,000, it’s clear that the imbalance has multiple driving forces.

Women earn less than men on average

In Australia, women make 14% less than men on average. This can be attributed to women securing less high-paying jobs and working more part-time jobs on average. Additionally, roles that are filled by more women than men generally involve lower pay.

Employer contributions to staff super correlate directly with how high the employees’ salaries are, so the gender pay gap is a clear cause of women accumulating less in their super than men over their lifetimes.

Women take more time off of work

Not only are women seen less frequently in high-paying positions, but they also take time off work to care for their families more often than their male counterparts. The bulk of at-home responsibilities continues to fall on women’s shoulders. Women spend 64.4% of their workweek on unpaid care-based responsibilities, while men only spend 36.1% of their time on similar tasks. 

Women face higher expectations to care for their families and households than men do, so women are often the ones who transition to part-time jobs or leave their careers altogether to fulfil these responsibilities.

Women have longer average life spans

Women live longer than men on average. As of 2019, Australian women live an average of 4.1 years longer than Australian men. This means that women’s retirement funds need to last for a longer period of time.

Since women’s super needs to last for an average of four years longer than men’s, women have to spread their spending money more thinly. A woman may not be able to spend as much money as her male counterpart in retirement, even if she retires with the same amount of money and at the same age.

How can women be more proactive?

There are barriers that make it more difficult for women to save up for retirement. However, with the right tools and strategies, women can bridge the super gap.

Salary sacrificing

One of the most common ways that women can add to their super is salary sacrificing. Employers are already required to contribute 10% of their employees’ salaries into their super, but workers can choose to redirect even more of their salary towards their retirement.

Depending on how much a woman makes, sacrificing some of her salary might require that she make some lifestyle changes. However, women can pick and choose the changes they are most comfortable with. They can range from bargain shopping to limiting dining out and taking fewer vacations.

Check out our Retirement Lifestyle Calculator to discover how much you need to sacrifice today to save up for the retirement you want.

Spouse contributions

For women who are married, spouse contributions are a smart way to level the playing field between partners, especially if one person makes significantly more than the other.

A spouse can contribute some of their post-tax earnings to their partner’s super, which helps a couple share the responsibility of saving for retirement. Not only that, but the person who contributed to their spouse’s super could be eligible for a tax offset of up to 18%.


Approximately 6 million Australians have more than one super account, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). For women who have moved, started new jobs or gone through other significant life changes, it’s not uncommon to lose track of their super.

However, finding all super accounts and consolidating them can help women build their retirement fund. Just ask Suzie, who had multiple super accounts due to several different jobs over the years. A financial planner at Active Super helped her consolidate them, bolstering her savings and limiting the amount of fees she owed.

Government co-contributions

For the many Australian women who work part time or have lower incomes, government co-contributions are a way to get extra help.

If you make less than $56,112 per year, you are eligible to receive a super contribution from the government of up to 50 cents for every dollar you add, with a cap of $500 per year.

This provides people with lower incomes, many of whom are women, with the opportunity to catch up to workers who make significantly higher wages than them.

How Active Super can help

At Active Super, we understand that women face a variety of barriers to building their super, and we’re here to help make it easier.

Contact us today for more information on how to maximise your super.