Young female savers face having £100,000 less in retirement income than their male counterparts, according to new data from Scottish Widows.
“Lower average earnings, part-time work and taking time out of paid employment to care for family is setting women back by almost four decades,” said Scottish Widows.
“As International Women’s Day highlights the progress made in gender equality, Scottish Widows has found that there is still some way to go before the gender pensions gap closes.
“To reach retirement parity, a woman in her 20s today will have to work 37 years longer than a man the same age to accumulate the same income.”
The company said young women were already on the wrong side of the gender pensions gap, which has only widened as a result of the pandemic.
It said more than a third (36%) of women under the age of 25 work in hardest hit sectors such as hospitality and retail, and almost half (49%) have been furloughed.
“Any reduction in hours or a career break will have an impact on pension outcomes,” said Widows.
“For those working part-time or on reduced hours, this can mean lower contributions or missing out on auto-enrolment.
“A lack of engagement amongst young female savers is also contributing to lower savings levels.
“More than one in five (21%) women under 25 admit that they have not started thinking about retirement.
“Just 46% of women in their 20s are saving the recommended minimum of 12% of their income, compared to 56% of men.”
Scottish Widows is part of Lloyds Banking Group. It has around £170 billion of assets under administration and six million customers.
Jackie Leiper, Managing Director, Pensions, Stockbroking and Distribution at Scottish Widows, said: “Women were already facing systemic challenges when saving for retirement.
“We know that young women have been some of the hardest hit by the short-term financial impact of the pandemic and this has only exacerbated the challenge of reaching pensions parity.
“At the same time, caring responsibilities and high childcare costs are keeping women out of the workforce, lowering their contributions and denting their pension pots.”
Widows said a typical young woman might be putting away approximately £2,200 a year, compared to £3,300 for men.
“If the average woman were to up her contribution at the start of her career to save an extra 4% into her pension, her pot at 68 could be £329,139,” said Widows.
“This would reduce the gender pensions gap by almost £75,000.
“Upping contributions by 5% would increase this to £94,000, which would close the gap almost completely.”
Leiper added: “Whilst we can’t change societal norms overnight, progress is still possible to help young women achieve a comfortable retirement.
“By taking control of their contributions and increasing them as early as possible, young women stand a fighting chance of improving their long-term savings outlook.”