Gender, Work & Organisation

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Volume 22 Issue 5 (September 2015), Pages 437-533

Gendering Pensions: Making Women Visible (pages 445-458)

This paper argues that the UK pension system is gender blind and is structured around a heteropatriarchal experience. It does so by analysing two key pieces of UK pension policy: the New Flat Rate State Pension and Auto‐Enrolment. Since the 1980s the value of the British state pension has fallen, and it is now worth half what it was in 1979. This presents a particular disadvantage for women who not only tend to be lower paid, but because of a gendered occupational life course, also tend to work part‐time hours, and thus also fail to work the number of qualifying years for the full state pension. Traditionally, this results in a pension penalty for women. It is argued that the New Flat Rate State Pension and Auto‐Enrolment will counteract this disadvantage, and political discourses used by policymakers claim that they will also create a fairer society. The argument presented here seeks to demonstrate that this claim is problematic by exposing how (i) gender blindness prevents gender equality in pension provision delivery, and (ii) how the formulation of these policies are actually reinforced by a heteropatriarchal welfare system, which fundamentally undermines the contribution made by women to the economy.

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