People are increasingly working past the age of 65 – there are now 229,000 more in employment than in 2011, when the default retirement age was axed, a rise of more than a quarter. But there’s a gender gap: men are far more likely to want to keep working because they like their job.
Just over a third of workers over the age of 55 are planning to stay in work one way or another (compared to 45% who haven’t even thought about their retirement yet), according to a survey by Scottish Widows’ Centre for the Modern Family. Of those, 38% of men said they wanted to stay on as they like their job and want to keeping developing professionally (still a worryingly low figure if, like many, you think workers who like their jobs are more productive). A mere 12% of women agreed.
Many respondents also had more humdrum motivations: 45% of men and 44% of women said they needed to keep working to supplement their pension, while 19% of men and 9% of women said they still had debts or mortgages to pay off.
So where does the gender gap come in? It’s also there after retirement: 15% of men over the age of 45 (a slightly odd age to measure it from…) had gone back to work after stopping, compared to 9% of women.
Parenting expert Liz Fraser put it down to many women being excluded from more rewarding careers, due to gaps in their working lives around having children. ‘For some women, carrying on working means carrying on in low-paid and unfulfilling jobs to which they are not committed,’ she said.
That’s supported by the fact an almost identical percentage over male and female over-55s said they want to keep working past 65 as they ‘don’t feel old enough to retire yet’ (54% and 55%). The report also noted two-thirds of women over the age of 50 work in just three sectors: education, health and retail.
So all that would indicate there’s a large pool of older women who aren’t working in roles and sectors where they (and, therefore, their employers) can thrive. Companies are waking up to the fact that they will lose out on talent if they don’t successfully reintegrate mothers into the workplace. But, in the meantime, there are plenty of capable older women out there whose skills are going to waste.