the facts about women and super

Knowledge is power

Women in Super (WIS) believe in shining a spotlight on the inequality of our super system to create much needed change. Primarily driven by super policy reform, a core objective of WIS is to increase the retirement adequacy of Australian women.

This is an audacious task, but one that WIS is tackling head-on. Progress can only be achieved when people understand a problem, pledge their support to a solution and take action to change it.

We encourage you to learn more about the facts of our super system, so, like thousands of others around Australia, you can help us to be an agent for positive change.

Women and super - why the numbers don't stack up

  • Women retire with 24% less super than their male counterparts.(1)
  • As we begin to see the effects of COVID-19 Early Release on the super balances of Australians, we are expecting to see the gap widen, with almost 500,000(2) Australians totally emptying their super accounts leading the an impact at retirement of up to $95,696..(3)
  • Women only receive 1/3 of the government tax concessions on super (men receive the other 2/3).(4)
  • Australian women live on average 4 years longer than men, and with their lower super balances, they run out of super much earlier.(5)
Quick stats
  • Women comprise of 47.4% of the workforce. (6)
  • Women earn $1 million less than men over their lifetime, and retire with $136,000 less superannuation. (7)
  • Based on full time earnings, Australian women earn 14.1% less and form 67% of part time workers, pushing the pay gap even further. (8)
  • Women earning the median wage accumulate about $393,676 in super, $151,000 under the level defined as “comfortable retirement” (9)
  • Men have higher average salaries than women in 95% of all occupations (including those where women dominate the workforce) (10)
  • The median salary of female graduates is 12.4% lower than men, and increases 11.1% three years after graduation. (11)
  • Australian mothers have missed out on more than $2.8bn in super savings at retirement from taking time out of the workforce to have children (12)
  • Almost twice as many women spend more than five hours a day caring for children than men. (13)
  • 34% of single Australian women over 60 live in income poverty (compared to 27% of men). (14)
  • 59% of those accessing homeless services are women. (15)
  • Latest Census data reported the number of women over 55 experiencing homelessness increased by 31% over the five years prior. (16)

Strategies to improve your retirement outcomes

  • Build savings early: making voluntary contributions early in your working life will make a big difference at retirement thanks to compounding interest.
  • Choose your super wisely: preferably have only one super fund as having multiple accounts means it is hard to keep track of how much super you have, and you'll probably be paying more fees than you should.
  • Get advice: contact your fund for advice about your super and ask questions and seek clarification if you don't understand.
  • Advocate: get involved and help us advocate for legislative change to benefit all women. 



During these unprecedented times, Women in Super is particularly concerned about the impact the pandemic will have on the financial security of many women who have found themselves out of work, with reduced working hours and/or isolated at home in precarious situations. Accessing super early is not just a $20,000 decision - it comes with long-term implications which need to be considered before a final decision is made.

  • Women's Legal Services Victoria have put together this brochure about everything you should know about early release of super
  • ISA have provided a good overview of the types of financial assistance available, including early release
  • AIST have also put together a good overview of the early release scheme

Scenario Models

As part of its response to the Coronavirus crises the Government has announced measures to enable members to access their super accounts. This comes at a cost. Part of that cost is the foregoing of future earnings on balances removed from superannuation accounts.

The following table shows the estimated impact on retirement balances where an account balance is reduced by $20,000.

Age Starting balance Super taken Difference at retirement
25 $20,000 $20,000 -$120,511
30 $40,000 $20,000 -$97,214
35 $60,000 $20,000 -$78,420
40 $79,000 $20,000 -$63,260
45 $95,000 $20,000 -$51,030
50 $109,000 $20,000 -$41,165

Source: Industry Super Australia

The cost of early access to super is developed by relying on a number of assumptions. The modelling used is not a projector of expected superannuation balances at retirement and should not be used as such. 


Useful links

If you want to learn more about what to do about your super, check out some of the following websites:




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