• One in ten (10%) men make occasional extra lump sum payments compared to just 5% of women
  • Standard Life research highlights disparity in pension contributions between genders, and impact on potential retirement outcomes

Women are much more likely to pay the minimum amount required into their pension under auto-enrolment, according to research1 from Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, highlighting the differences in pension contributions between genders.

Standard Life’s Retirement Voice study finds almost three quarters (73%) of women say they pay the minimum amount they’re required to pay in, which is 5% of their salary then topped up by 3% of their salary from their employer, or the minimum amount their employer recommends – compared to 58% of men. A quarter (25%) of men regularly pay in more than the minimum amount, whereas just 17% of women do the same. Meanwhile one in ten (10%) men make occasional extra lump sum contributions, but this falls to only 5% of women.

Gender pension gap

The disparity between contribution levels is one cause of the UK’s gender pension gap, which was estimated to be almost 40% in 2019-202. As well as contributing less as a percentage of their salary to their pension, women are also 32% more likely to reduce their working days for an extended period of time, according to think tank Phoenix Insights3, lowering their earning potential.

Women in work are also more likely than men to fall under the auto enrolment threshold (35% vs 11%), take career breaks due to life events such as motherhood, childcare and caring responsibilities, and also be economically inactive due to long-term health conditions. All of these factors can have a negative impact on women’s financial futures.

Neil Hugh, Head of Workplace Proposition at Standard Life, commented: “The disparity in contribution levels between women and men is leading to financial inequality in retirement. Women are more likely to pay the minimum into their pension and so more likely to find themselves financially disadvantaged in retirement than those who have topped up their contribution levels or paid in one-off lump. Auto-enrolment has been a huge success bringing over 10 million more people into the pension system but irrespective of gender the current minimum contribution levels are simply not high enough for savers to achieve a comfortable retirement, and while we hope this changes in the future, for now we have a significant under-saving problem.

“The gender pension gap is also exacerbated by life stages that can impact women’s earning power – such as taking time out to look after children, the menopause or long-term health conditions. Despite shifts in culture and attitudes over recent decades, women still shoulder more than their fair share of caring responsibility for vulnerable adults, like elderly parents, as well as their children. Hopefully the expansion of the government’s free childcare offering announced at the Spring Budget will start the long journey to improving the situation for women – but to accelerate progress, expansion of the auto-enrolment scheme is badly needed.”





Matilda Lloyd Williams
0754 8945395

James Merrick
Standard Life
07713 918949


Notes to editors:

1 Boxclever conducted research among 6,000 UK adults. Fieldwork was conducted 6th Sept – 16th October 2022. Data was weighted post-fieldwork to ensure the data remained nationally representative on key demographics.

2 ‘The Gender Pension Gap’, House of Commons Library, 4 April 2022.

3 ‘Caught in a gap: the role of employers in enabling women to build better pensions’, Phoenix Insights, December 2022.


About Standard Life

  • Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after peoples' life savings for nearly 200 years
  • Today it proudly serves millions of customers who come to Standard Life directly, through advisers and through their employers' pension scheme.
  • Standard Life is part of Phoenix Group, the largest long-term savings and retirement business in the UK. We're proud to be building on nearly 200 years of Standard Life heritage together
  • Our products include a variety of Pensions, Bonds and Retirement options to suit people's needs, helping our customers to invest and save for their future. We're proud to offer a leading range of sustainable and responsible investment options.
  • We support our customers on their journey to and through retirement with comprehensive, easy-to-understand guidance so they can invest in the right way for their needs, and plan a future they feel confident about
  • The value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than originally invested.

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