Women, on average, have much less superannuation than men. This is called the superannuation gap. 

According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average superannuation balance for women is significantly lower across every age group and expands as women get older. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics: Household Income and Wealth, Australia: Summary of Results. 2019-20

This gap means women are more likely to have to compromise their living expenses and goals in retirement, especially if they are single, separated, or widowed.

There are several factors that contribute to the superannuation gap for women. Firstly, women tend to earn less than men over their lifetime. This may be due a number of reasons such as career breaks, part-time work, taking on the main family or extended family (e.g. aging parents) care responsibilities or due to the gap between pays for the same type of work performed.

Over time this means less money is being contributed to superannuation either by your employer or yourself, especially earlier during your working life. Because less money is added thereby reducing the effectiveness of compound returns (bigger returns are made by investing more money earlier) means that the gap continues to widen over time.

This is a serious issue as women on average live longer than men, meaning women actually need more money to sustain themselves in retirement. The life expectancy for women in Australia is 85.3 years, compared to 81.2 years for men.

This means women, especially single women, need to focus on their retirement savings to ensure they don’t fall behind.

Thankfully there are plenty of things you can do to narrow the gap. 

Seeking financial advice from a professional is a good start. They can help you determine if the gap is going to be a problem for you or your household. They will assist you in devising a plan, taking into account your financial position and goals and can assist you to understand some of the measures being put in place to help address the superannuation gap. 

Some of these measures include:

Superannuation on Paid Parental Leave

From 1 July 2025, superannuation will be paid on the government funded Paid Parental Leave (PPL).  This coincides with the PPL payment increasing up to 24 weeks or, based on a 5 day working week, 120 days. 

This will give the main care giver 12% super contributions on the PPL payments.

Superannuation co-contribution

The co-contribution has been around for a while but is still a good way to get extra money into superannuation. If you earn less than $45,400 in the 2024/25 financial year, you may be able to contribute $1,000 and the Government will make a further $500 contribution on your behalf.

If you earn less than $37,000 you may have an added bonus of the Low income super tax offset which offsets the contribution tax paid by your superannuation fund up to $500. This is an automatic payment as long as you lodge a tax return.

Super guarantee contributions on all earnings

It used to be unfair that if you earned less than $450 in a month your employer would not need to make any superannuation contributions to your super. 

From 1 July 2022 the rules were changed so that you receive super contributions from your employer on every dollar you earn, with no minimum. This is good for people who work casual jobs.

Spouse Superannuation Split

Should one member of a couple be the main bread winner, they can split their super contributions over to the spouse earning a lower income. Up to 85% of tax deductible contributions (the total contribution less the 15% tax) can be split between spouses.

There can be several reasons for doing this with balancing superannuation accounts being one of the main reasons.

Slowly law makers are acknowledging the superannuation gap. These measures won’t fix the matter entirely, but it is a start.

The biggest impact on your superannuation and your final balance is to start early. No matter how small the contributions you make are, starting early will allow you to have a greater balance when you retire.



If you would like to learn more about the topics discussed in this article, please contact your local RSM office.

This page has been prepared by RSM Financial Services Australia Pty Ltd ABN 22 009 176 354, AFS Licence No. 238282.

As everyone's circumstances are different and this article doesn't take into account your personal situation, it is important that you consider the above in light of your financial situation, needs and objectives, and seek financial advice before implementing a strategy.         

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