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Why gender equity is an intergenerational issue, especially when it comes to super

/ Dec 11, 2012 9:42AM / Print / ()

Australia needs to consider the looming issues of superannuation that will affect men and women, especially following the RBA's decision to cut interest rates last week.

Higher interest rates are not always a bad thing, yet it may not be ideal for your mortgage repayments. As your super matures, the higher the cash rate, largely, the better the outcome for your superannuation longer-term.

All governments in recent history have promoted to low interest rates as a sign of economic success, but when we think about retirement, after working professionally for oftentimes more than 40 years, we want the best return on investment possibly.

Women, statistically, have less super than men, the mean superannuation for women is $52,000 compared to $88,000 for men, and on average 26% of women don't have superannuation at all compared to 19% of men. This only gets worse as we age. Into retirement this will cause financial stress for women, and emotional hardship and feelings of dependency on their spouses.

Women are embracing education and are now completing tertiary education more than men (50% of women are achieving post-school qualifications, compared with 43% of men), but the issue of super difference looms. The combination of a lack of flexible workplace arrangements and the gender pay-gap solidify this concern for Australia, and women.

The gender pay gap is more than just a percentage, the current 25 year old male with a bachelor degree is like to earn $3.3 million over 40 years, while his female counterpart will earn $1.8 million. These are real financial differences that highlight then massive difference facing us into retirement.

I've always believed that gender equity will be best forwarded by men and women, but this issue will last longer than the men in leadership roles now and younger men have no pathway to engage with gender equity at this stage. Subsequently, they don't always understand the consequences of the gender pay gap for them, even into retirement.

For continued movement on this issue, that will need to change.

Both acknowledging financial independence for women early and providing flexible workplace arrangements will assist in counteracting these implications for men and women.

As we age, we all have stake in financial independence, and while we can have the 'conversation' about flexible workplace arrangements there need to be action for men and women. The alternative is creating another era of dependence due to a lack of foresight by our governments.

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