/ Resources
Effective approaches to investing in women for a more robust and resilient economy, according to our research

Effective approaches to investing in women for a more robust and resilient economy, according to our research

Here are some ways we can close the gender gap on financial security, literacy, and retirement confidence.

Women, girls, and gender-diverse people are a large proportion of the global population and have the potential to make significant social impact. Uplifting these groups unlocks the full potential of human capital, allowing economies to foster rapid growth and innovation as diverse perspectives and talents contribute to a more robust and resilient economy.

Nonetheless, gender inequality persists as a global challenge. One reason for this is that our current economic system disproportionately affects women.

At BehaviourWorks Australia, our collaborative research with AustralianSuper has explored the gender gaps in financial security and retirement confidence. In our studies involving more than 3,000 Australians aged 50 and over, women have reported less confidence than men in their ability to retire on their own current superannuation plans and projections, particularly when considering the prospect of retiring without support from a partner or the government age.

But, who needs to do what differently to close the gap?

This International Women’s Day, we declare that we must invest in women #CountHerIn.

What’s reinforcing the gender gaps in retirement confidence?

The short answer: several factors, with much of it tied back to a lack of financial literacy.

Financial literacy refers to the understanding of various financial concepts and practices that individuals need to make informed decisions about money management. Our research has shown women have lower financial literacy, thus leading to having less capabilities in defining clear, realistic goals for their retirement years and understanding what they have to do to achieve these goals.

Investing in women means investing in social well-being

Financial security for women and having confidence in their retirement empowers them to actively participate in shaping social development. Women are often the primary caregivers within families, so financial security grants them the decision-making power to invest in their families’ well-being. Thus, fostering improved living standards and breaking the cycle of poverty. One way of enhancing womens’ long-term financial security is to provide support that fosters a proactive approach to financial planning, beyond relying on their superannuation.

Superannuation is a fundamental pillar of the retirement income system, alongside the Age Pension and private savings. Several Australians’ retirement incomes are derived from a combination of these three pillars. Together with private savings, such as voluntary superannuation contributions, superannuation allows Australians to achieve financial security and a higher standard of living in retirement than that offered by the Age Pension alone. 

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds in Australia (ASFA), the amount of available funds needed for retirees - aged between 65 yo 85 - to live a modest and comfortable lifestyle exceeds the maximum Age Pension retirees receive per year. Thus, highlighting the importance of proactive financial planning to ensure retirement confidence.

Investing in women means investing in sustainable development

Australians can choose how their superannuation is invested. In our research, women show a stronger inclination towards ethical superannuation investment practices - such as renewable energy and clean technologies - compared to men.

Percentage of men vs women’s agreement with the statement “It is important that your super is invested with an ethical and responsible mindset.” - Note: Please note that the percentages for agree and strongly agree responses have been combined to generate the graph, as have the percentages for disagree and strongly disagree responses.

This means that women’s superannuation investment decisions also have a stronger positive impact on societal issues. By prioritising investments that adhere to ethical principles, women can contribute not only to gender equality, but also addressing critical social and environmental challenges.

Where should we invest in women?

Closing the gender gap in retirement confidence is a multifaceted challenge that requires a comprehensive approach. Not only will it involve enhanced financial education and planning, but also tackling other key barriers that affect women’s retirement savings. This includes career interruptions in caregiving, which significantly affects women’s superannuation balance. 

Based on our research, and what we know has worked, we’ve collated a list of proven strategies and initiatives that have effectively improved women’s financial literacy:

  1. Investing in women’s in financial and retirement education

Education is key to empowering women with the knowledge and skills to retire confidently. According to our research, retirement education services and facilities that are provided by the workplace can significantly enhance the retirement confidence of older workers - especially women.

  1. Investing in awareness-building campaigns for women

We found that Australians over 50 years are more confident in their retirements if they have seen a financial advisor. The same applies for those who are more engaged with their superannuation fund. This could mean they are more active in engaging in the fund’s website, or contacting them by phone or email. Investments in campaigns that build awareness of these services, how to access them, and their benefits, are highly likely to enhance women’s confidence in retirement.

  1. Investing in women’s health and wellbeing

Our research has also shown that women’s overall health affects their confidence in retirement. We know that improving the care provided to older women can significantly influence their physical and mental health, and lead to a stronger sense of security and self-sufficiency. This, in turn, increases confidence in adjusting to and enjoying the retirement phase, as women feel more capable of managing the transition and demands of retirement life. Better health is, therefore, an enabler for older women to fully enjoy their retirement years.


Investing in improving women's financial literacy is a key first step to not only closing the gender gap in financial security and retirement confidence but also to fostering a more sustainable and equitable world. By empowering women with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage their finances, we not only enhance individual well-being but also strengthen families, communities, and economies at large. Women play a pivotal role in shaping our societies and driving economic growth, therefore ensuring their financial empowerment is essential for building a prosperous and resilient future for all.

Contact us about partnering on a project

Written by Dr Fernanda Mata and Malaika Jaovisidha

No items found.

Sign up to the broadcast

Get monthly behaviour change content and insights

I'm an alumnus, friend or supporter (including donors, mentors and industry partners)
I'm a Monash student
I'm interested in studying at Monash
I recently applied to study at Monash
I'm a Monash staff member
I recently participated in research activities or studies with Monash

I agree to receive marketing communications from Monash University. Monash University values the privacy of every individual's personal information and is committed to the protection of that information from unauthorised use and disclosure except where permitted by law. For information about the handling of your personal information please see Data Protection and Privacy Procedure and our Data Protection and Privacy Collection Statements.

If you have any questions about how Monash University is collecting and handling your personal information, please contact our Data Protection and Privacy Office at dataprotectionofficer@monash.edu.

Education & training

Looking to upskill?

Check out our Monash University accredited courses, along with our short and bespoke training programs.


Have a project for us?

We offer a broad range of research services to help governments, industries and NGOs find behavioural solutions.


Explore our resources

We believe in building capacity and sharing knowledge through multiple channels to our partners, collaborators and the wider community.