AustralianSuper says women face superannuation poverty

New research from AustralianSuper unearths startling realities about women facing poverty in retirement.

The study, conducted with the help of Monash University, found mounting evidence surrounding the gender gap in superannuation after interviewing 40 women.

Discrepancies in superannuation savings are likely to continue because of a range of "interrelated and complex" factors regarding gender and work and life factors, the authors said.

The structure of the current superannuation system is flawed in that it favours higher income earners working full time continuously and throughout their working lives, they said.

Among the findings, women who take parental leave and work part time will be subject to a superannuation 'double penalty' effect.

This is a result of making little or zero super contributions and the detrimental effects of part-time work and career breaks.

The report notes that women's work trajectories deviate from the standard model that superannuation expectations and projections are based.

"This career model assumes, among other things, that there is little time out of the workforce, that time spent working is predominantly full time and that there is a linear and upward trajectory associated with experience and age," it said.

But those with this working profile are the most likely to have the capacity to accumulate savings and experience a comfortable retirement.

What arose from the study was women's working lives did not fit this picture, the report said.

Organisational cultures that are sexist, misogynistic or hostile to women also impact women's ability to accumulate super by prohibiting progression or even forcing them to change occupations.

Additionally, the disproportionate allocation of domestic responsibilities on women puts them in a difficult position to build up a super balance.

The research highlights adverse life events such as divorce, single parenthood and family illness, have a disproportionate effect on women's financial security.

This is due to the fact women end up as unpaid carers, often facing the financial consequences of sacrificing their employment trajectory to support others.

Read more: SuperannuationAustralianSuperMonash University
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