One of the world's most famous anthropologists, Margaret Mead, once said "sooner or later I'm going to die, but I'm not going to retire."
Mead chose to continue working well into her 70s. Today, many women are also remaining in the workforce longer than expected, but unlike Mead, their prolonged careers are not by choice.
America's looming retirement security crisis disproportionately affects women, who live longer, earn less, and spend less time in the workforce than men. Older women are twice as likely as elderly men to be living near or below the federal poverty line.
Here are some of the reasons why income inequality impacts the retirement security of women:
- Women on average earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
- Women are more likely to work part-time than men, frequently not qualifying them for employer-sponsored retirement plans.
- Two-thirds of American women over the age of 65 live entirely on Social Security which provides around $1,000 in monthly retirement benefits to women.
These disparities have left nearly 90 percent of American women with a great deal of anxiety about their ability to retirement in today's economy.
"I am very worried about when and if I can afford to retire. Few of the jobs I have ever had paid over $12 per hour so that I could save for retirement, let alone offered an employer-sponsored retirement plan," says Kristi Thayer an Oregon homecare provider.
For Thayer finding solutions to America's looming retirement security crisis is a social and economic imperative.
"People like me who do hard work for low wages need retirement security too instead of only executive jobs providing retirement plans," she said. "I've worked hard all these years only to worry that I'll end up in homelessness."