It's time to help close the gender super gap

The disparity in how much men and women earn continues to impact many women after they leave paid work. Here's what we’re doing – and what you can do – to embrace equity for women at every age.

The gender super gap is something many of us don’t think about until we’re ready to retire, if we think about it at all. But all-too often, women are left behind, with recent figures indicating the super balances of women, on average, are up to 25% lower than men.1

There are many reasons for this disparity. Men are twice as likely as women to be in higher paying roles, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s latest annual report card.2 On average women also spend fewer years in the paid workforce due to taking time out to care for children and ageing relatives. Women are also more likely to work part-time than men.

Over a lifetime of working, they all play a part in further widening the gender super gap. 

We also know that on average, women have a higher life expectancy than men, meaning they need to prepare for a longer retirement - but on less.3 We need to address the gender super gap now, so women don’t continue to be disadvantaged after they leave the paid workforce.

Although shifting societal norms will take time, there are things we can do now to better support women to build their super.

Creating a more equitable super system

At Mercer Super, we believe it’s time we embrace equity for fairer retirement outcomes for everyone, as equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. 

Dr David Knox, a Senior Partner at Mercer and author of the Mercer CFA Global Pension Index, advocates for tax reform to enable fairer outcomes in super – helping to close the super gender gap in his latest report ‘Super tax reform leading to fairer outcomes’.

Dr Knox’s recommendations include:

  • The mandatory payment of super guarantee (SG) contributions on government-paid parental leave
  • To help low-income earners save for retirement, increase the income threshold for the low-income superannuation tax offset (LISTO) from $37,000 or less per year to $45,000 or less per year. In addition to this, increase the maximum LISTO government payment from $500 to $810. 

“The payment of the SG on government-paid parental leave and the extension of LISTO will increase the superannuation balances for parents, particularly women,” said Dr Knox.

Start closing the gap now

While we continue advocating with policymakers and other members of the superannuation industry for a more equitable superannuation system, you can also start working to close the gap by making one or more of the following contributions to grow your super account, or your partner’s super account:

  • Salary sacrifice – grow your super while reducing the amount of income tax you pay. Simply ask your employer to contribute an additional amount of your take-home pay to your super account each time you’re paid. 
  • Voluntary contributions – use after-tax money, such as money from your savings account to make extra contributions to your super. In some cases, you may be able to get a tax deduction for voluntary contributions. 
  • Spouse contributions – one partner can help boost the super balance of the other with after-tax contributions. There may also be tax benefits to this, depending on your personal circumstances.
  • Contribution splitting – in certain circumstances, one partner can provide the other with some of their super, including super contributions from their employer or salary sacrifice payments.

A little can go a long way

When it comes to your super, through the power of investment returns and compound interest, small contributions now, may mean a significant boost to your super balance over the course of your or your partners’ career.

To illustrate the impact even a monthly $100 contribution may have on a super account balance over a number of years we’ve prepared an example4 to highlight the accumulated savings at retirement.

Starting age

Accumulated savings at retirement

30 $155,810
40 $78,280
50 $34,780


You can learn more about making extra super contributions here.

It’s important we tackle this issue head on, so all Australians can enjoy the same level of comfort and financial security in retirement. 

Let’s work together to close the gender super gap. 



Manage your super

Learn more about making extra super contributions

Contributing to your super

Mercer Super

March 2023

1. Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Quarterly Superannuation Bulletin publication 30 June 2022, Table 7.



4. This example, assumes a Mercer Super member with a $50,000 starting balance contributes an additional $100 per month from the starting age to age 67. There is an assumption of an annual (constant) investment return of 7% p.a. (with monthly interest on contributions) and earnings tax (going forward) of 15%. Figures are in nominal terms and rounded to the nearest $10.

This webpage has been prepared by Mercer Superannuation (Australia) Limited (MSAL) ABN 79 004 717 533, Australian Financial Services Licence #235906. Any advice contained in this presentation is of a general nature only, and does not take into account the personal needs and circumstances of any particular individual. Prior to acting on any information contained in this presentation, you need to take into account your own financial circumstances, consider the Product Disclosure Statement for any product you are considering, and seek professional advice from a licensed, or appropriately authorised financial adviser if you are unsure of what action to take.

‘MERCER’ is a registered trademark of Mercer (Australia) Pty Ltd, ABN 32 005 315 917.