A new report shows that women are saving £1,300 less a year than men – despite the gender pay gap being at its lowest level on record when it comes to pensions. 

New research by Scottish Widows, a life insurance and pensions company, analyses the structural inequalities that women face in the labour market.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the research found that women could be facing a gender pay gap of around £100,000 when it comes to their pensions savings.

This is said to have occurred due to the difference in income between men and women as opposed to different rates of savings. Specifically, this gap was attributed to more women working part-time and taking career breaks as an impact of the pandemic.

Looking at the earnings gap between men and women between the ages of 22-29, this stands around £2,400. However, by the time workers are aged between 50-59, the earnings gap has increased to £8,500. Figures show that the median income in 2019 for a man was £30,400 and only £19,600 for a woman. The substantial income gap has an evident knock-on effect on savings and pensions contributions.

Another prevalent issue for women when it comes to pensions is the issue of part-time hours. The research identified a trend of women being increasingly likely to work part-time hours as they get older.

Although the gap between male and female part time workers in their 20s is only 15 per cent (13 per cent for men and 28 per cent for women), this difference becomes much wider as the years progress.

By the time workers are in their 50s, only 11 per cent of men are working part-time whilst part-time workers constitutes almost half of women in the same age bracket (43 per cent).

As such, this means a part-time worker who is saving adequately (at least 12 per cent of their income) will contribute around one third of what a full-time employee would to their pensions. To rectify this, Scottish Widows stated that affordable childcare should be accessible which would give many women the option to continue working full-time.

Overall, the report found that it would take a woman 37 extra years to save the same amount into her pension as a man, taking her over the age of 100 if retiring at State Pension age. In addition, this number is set to grow due to the impact of the pandemic.

Jackie Leiper, Managing Director, Workplace Savings at Scottish Widows, said:

While we’re heartened at the record levels of saving, there’s still a mountain to climb before we reach true gender pension parity. Women face decades of extra working before they’ll have a pension to match that of a man’s, which is unfair and unacceptable. Until we can resolve structural inequalities, from the gender pay gap to the uneven division of labour at home, we will never have pension equality.

In a matter of months the pandemic is reversing years of progress. We’re calling for urgent pension reforms that will help more women save more for retirement, including improved childcare provisions, enhanced pensions for those on maternity leave, the inclusion of pensions in divorce proceedings, and the scrapping of the auto‐enrolment minimum earnings threshold.


*This research was taken from Scottish Widows’ new report ‘Women and Retirement 2020’, published in 2021. To obtain these results, YouGov, commissioned by Scottish Widows, carried out two separate surveys – the first which surveyed 5,757 adults in March-April 2020. The second related to the impact of COVID-19 and questioned 2,251 adults and occurred in March – May 2020.