Inadequate male recognition of women's saving barriers fuels 60% gender pension gap

Ffion White

by , PR Manager

22 Feb 2022 /  

Feb 2022

Figures on a scale.
  • 66% of women believe that womens’ higher share of care responsibilities contributed to their early retirement, compared to 55% of men
  • 18% of men fail to recognise the impact difficult workplace environments and cultures can have on women’s decisions to retire early
  • 29% of women agree that older women experience difficulties finding suitable work, compared to 15% of men
  • The UK gender pension gap is 38% on average, rising to almost 60% in some regions

Analysis from leading online pension provider, PensionBee, reveals that men underestimate the impact of the social and economic pressures felt by women, that contribute to them retiring years before their male counterparts.

PensionBee recently surveyed c.1,000 savers located across the UK, to understand their views on how we can create a more inclusive pension system.

The research reveals that there are barriers at almost every stage of a woman’s life, limiting her ability to save for retirement, resulting in a gender pension gap of 38% on average and almost 60% in some parts of the UK (1).

Despite these barriers being acutely felt by women, men systematically tend to underrate the impact of these challenges on women’s retirement decisions and outcomes.

PensionBee found that while 66% of women believe that womens’ higher share of care responsibilities contributed to their early retirement, only 55% of men are in agreement. In fact, 19% of male respondents disagree with this sentiment entirely, compared to just 7% of female respondents.

Difficult workplace environments and cultures were also discussed as a contributing factor for women’s early retirement, yet 18% of men fail to see the impact, compared to 10% of women. Another topic the survey explored is whether older women experience difficulties finding suitable work, with 29% of female respondents in strong agreement, in contrast to just 15% of male respondents. Women aged 50 and over are more likely to strongly agree with this view, at 36%, compared to only 11% of male respondents in this age group.

The findings highlight the importance of men recognising these issues to ensure that, going forward, saving systems and government incentives are designed with the experiences of women in mind. Businesses and lawmakers need to invest in building sex-disaggregated data sets, while diverse representation is required across the teams that are responsible for implementing solutions.

Female workers, in particular, must be part of the conversation in order to reject the pervasive stereotypes and culture of blame that surrounds women, however, progress is slow. Of the 650 MPs in the House of Commons today, 34% are women (2). In the UK’s FTSE 100 there are only eight female CEOs (3) and of the UK’s biggest pension providers just 30% have women in the top job (4).

Jonathan Lister Parsons, Chief Technology Officer of PensionBee, commented: “Our survey shines a light on the multifaceted and systemic challenges faced by women, as well as the huge disconnect between how men and women perceive these barriers.

Women have many allies, however, real progress cannot be made if the challenges faced by this gender are routinely underrated and minimised by men who typically hold the positions of power needed to effect lasting change - from business leaders to policymakers.

If we are to improve savings rates among women and eradicate the gender pension gap once and for all, it is essential that all statistics are disaggregated by sex so the impact on women is fully visible. As men we so often assume that what is experienced by our sex is universal, and that needs to end today.”


Table 1: Barriers for women - Caring responsibilities

Women often feel pressure to retire earlier than they want to due to caring responsibilities Women (%) Men (%)
Strongly agree 25% 14%
Agree 41% 41%
Neither agree nor disagree 26% 27%
Disagree 6% 16%
Strongly Disagree 1% 3%

Source: PensionBee, January 2021. Survey respondents: 960. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 2: Barriers for women - Workplace culture

Older women often feel forced out of the workplace due to difficult workplace environments/culture Women (%) Men (%)
Strongly agree 24% 13%
Agree 37% 38%
Neither agree nor disagree 29% 32%
Disagree 8% 14%
Strongly Disagree 2% 4%

Source: PensionBee, January 2021. Survey respondents: 960. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 3: Barriers for women - Finding work

Older women find it difficult to find suitable work All women (%) All men (%) Women aged 50 and over (%) Men aged 50 and over (%)
Strongly agree 29% 15% 36% 11%
Agree 44% 45% 42% 48%
Neither agree nor disagree 19% 25% 14% 24%
Disagree 7% 11% 8% 14%
Strongly Disagree 1% 4% 0% 3%

Source: PensionBee, January 2021. Survey respondents: 960. Numbers have been rounded.


  1. PensionBee
  2. Institue for Government
  3. The Guardian
  4. PensionBee analysis, February 2021

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