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Women Participating in 401(k) Plans Less Than Men

In a study of over 2,000 companies, Wells Fargo recently announced that 49% of men and 43% of women enroll in their employer-sponsored retirement plan. Compare this to Wells Fargo’s “recommended contribution index” measuring how many people are saving a minimum of 10% for their 401(k), in which 43% of men and 39% of women hit this target.

Additionally, a study from last fall by Fidelity Investments found that 19% of women hold primary responsibility for long-term retirement decisions, up from 9% in 2011.

Joe Ready, director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, believes that “In general, all men and women need to take full advantage of their workplace retirement plan and embrace the 401(k) as the primary retirement benefit. In our view, if people have access to a 401(k) they should try to save at least 10%. The power of saving regularly, coupled with the compounding effect of time, can create a financial foundation for people that results in much greater retirement security.” [emphasis added]

Despite the difference in participation rates, women appear to have more diverse investments in their 401(k) than men do. 70% of women have a minimum of two equities and a fixed fund and less than 20% in employer stock in their 401(k)s, while this number is 67% for men.