I have experienced extreme competition in only a few places: In my family’s living room during a game of Monopoly, sitting next to my dad and uncles while we watched the Patriots play and in the common room of my town’s senior center during bingo. That experience itself was host to many revelations, but among them was the drastic difference in the number of men compared to women where women outnumbered them by almost 10 –to 1. Was it just because they enjoyed bingo more, or something else?
In a world where Roe v. Wade has been overturned and the pay gap persists, it is blatant that inequality against women is still present and leaks into every part of a woman’s life — especially her retirement. The pay gap between men and women has been discussed thoroughly but something that is less focused on is the retirement gap. Indeed, the retirement gap is partially a result of this pay inequality but it can be argued that it is direr for a variety of reasons.
On average, women live longer than men but are far less prepared for retirement than their male counterparts. Only 50% of women have anything saved for retirement. This proves incredibly frightful for a group of individuals with a fixed income and an increased likelihood of developing health risks — health risks that often come with increased costs (almost $6,668 a year for individuals above 65). Combined, these disadvantages can add a colossal amount of stress to those who already face many challenges in their personal and social lives.
And Social Security? In 2020, it was determined that men earned $1,714 a month from Social Security while women only earned $1,378 per month. This is unsurprising as women commonly earn less than males and Social Security is calculated from these numbers. So compared to men, women on average live longer, but with a lower fixed income.
Indeed, there are many things that women can do prior to retirement. Save. Invest. Aim to be financially secure and plan for retirement—a goal that can be accomplished by increasing financial education for women. But unfortunately, these solutions do little to aid the growing number of elderly individuals who enter retirement financially insecure.
The solution lies in the understanding that equality is not equity. Social Security is something that is given to everyone. Nevertheless, to those who need more money, less is given. It’s hard to imagine that people would be okay with their money going to others, however. To stem this inequality, the government could aid by lowering the cost of living for women. For example, tampons and pads — items that are often a necessity for women — cost almost $120 per year. Providing these essentials at lower costs or offering financial assistance would greatly decrease the cost of living.
Gender inequalities that persist in the present can often be alarming when we are faced with the truth that is the year 2022. But there are actions we can take now to close these gaps and ease the lives of a group of people who have been often overlooked and underserved.