Women now lag even further behind men in the pension savings stakes, with ignorance about retirement provision leaving them increasingly vulnerable to post-work poverty, research suggests.
Different attitudes towards retirement mean just 47% of women will leave work financially secure, compared to 59% of men, according to Scottish Widows, a widening of the gender gap by 3% since June 2008.
Of those women who can and need to save 26% are not, up from 22% in 2008 - compared to just 15% of men -, and as many as 44% of women without a private pension say they never intend to contribute to one.
A major problem seems to be ignorance, with a third (34%) of women having little idea how to prepare for a comfortable retirement, according to research by Cofunds.
However Scottish Widows and other IFAs maintain the problem penetrates much deeper than the stereotype of women finding pensions "just too complicated".
Recent economic turmoil - 12% named job insecurity as a barrier to saving in the next year, double 2008 levels - and economic inhibitors such as debt, - women owe £1000 more non-mortgage debt than men -, and family - 24% of mothers with dependents have stopped pensions savings to prioritise family needs at some time - were major reasons women said they failed to save.
Ian Naismith, head of pensions market development at Scottish Widows, says while overall pensions savings have increased, women repeatedly feature as the "pensions underdogs":
"In a climate when people need to be saving more than ever for their futures, it is worrying women over 50 are actually saving less than previous years."
Susann Külhas, director of Female Financial advisory service, believes the gender gap is a "major concern", especially as differences in life expectancy mean women are already at a disadvantage:
"When women go to buy an annuity even on a like-for-like basis they end up with less because they live longer. We need to hammer home to women the importance of saving early and often."
She adds those who rely solely on their husband's pension risk financial insecurity in the case of divorce.
Stakeholder pensions have failed to help encourage women, says Külhas: "With a single mum on £12-£15,000 it doesn't matter how low the charges are they can't afford them, so someone comes along and says "Oh you can opt out", leaving those most in need most vulnerable."
She is pessimistic about the potential positive impact of Personal Accounts - "The whole thing is mismanaged" - and says the only hope is for the industry to shun product selling to focus on life planning, beginning in the class room.
A generational change may be coming; only one third (35%) of 18-25 year old women believe the government pension will help them have a reasonable standard of living upon retirement, according to Scottish Widows.
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