Day of the Girl
Today is #dayofthegirl; a good chance to share TPAS’s experience on gender differences and similarities.
More men than women contact us currently (58% to 42%), which is probably not a surprise when you think of the different employment histories over the last 40 years, with fewer women in paid employment. This is reflected in the volume of questions from men, where the trigger for contacting us is taking benefits is almost double that of females. This is the reverse for questions on divorce where we have double the number of females contacting us that are triggered by divorce compared with men.
For a number of years, we have produced a survey on “Women & Pensions” because we have identified that there are physical and emotional barriers that make it harder for women to build up a pension in their own right. Pensions are attached to the labour market and women are much more likely than men to work part-time and in low paid service-sector jobs, as they weave paid work around their caring responsibilities for children, family and relatives. The price they pay is an incomplete State pension and not much if any, private pension to add to it.
But times are changing. Last year, we ran the survey with the help of Team Spirit (who did it pro bono – thank you). The emerging trend is that some of the historic characteristics that resulted in women having lower pensions are now gender neutral, such as caring responsibilities, multiple part-time jobs or being self-employed. Hence, the new focus should be on learning the lessons from the past so that today’s girls and boys do make informed decisions on their retirement outcomes.
Our learnings from last year’s “Women & Pensions Survey” are:
- we need to continually evolve our service to reflect the changes in society especially employment patterns;
- we need to use our insight to develop new services such as the Divorce Appointments that we launched this year; and
- we need to make people aware that we exist and be approachable so that no one fears talking to one of our specialists.
Before going to school, children ask 100 questions each day. This graph shows how by the time we reach middle school, the number of questions we ask has plummeted. Looking at the TPAS data, many of our customers start by saying “Sorry, I should probably know the answer but….”. If this is the customers that call us, what about the people that do not call us – do they know the answer or are they inhibited to ask the question? We suspect the latter.
On this #dayofthegirl, we should learn from girls (and boys) the ability to ask questions, especially about their retirement income.