Super women: “Taming the Gap Trap”

To celebrate International Women’s Day two of smartMonday’s finest female money masters investigate the theme – Balance for Better – discovering ways to tame the ‘gap trap’.

Throughout history Women have always been pioneers for better.

From female pharaoh Hatshepsut, warrior Queen Boudica, to the first woman to break ground as a Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Go us!

These trailblazing fearless female giants lend their shoulders for the next generation to stand on, to see things more clearly, to achieve even more success. But we’re still waiting for someone to step up in the sphere of superannuation, to help us stride towards equality and start concreting over the ‘Gap Trap’.

We know that women in the developed part of the world are retiring with a third less to their name than men. That has an enormous impact on mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, family and friends.

From surveying our smartMonday membership in February the impact of missed payments during maternity leave became astoundingly clear to our members. Our survey uncovered the startling reality that six in ten women weren’t sure if their employer would continue to make super payments while they were on maternity leave.

We all need to be more aware of what tools are out there, what loopholes we can sneak through to help us close that gap.

We also need to be more supportive of each other in our shared quest towards success. 8 in 10 women believe companies should continue to make superannuation payments for employees on maternity and paternity leave, while 100 percent of surveyed men believed the payments should continue.

The words of influential American diplomat Madeleine Albright, who famously said there was, “A special place in hell for women who didn’t help other women,” still ring true. We need to lend a hand to all women, because ours is a story of shared success or isolated failure.

GAP TRAP #1 – Not empowering yourself.

In ten years Australia has plummeted 30 places in Gender Pay Gap scores. It’s an alarming trend. Even more frightening - we’re currently ranked behind Myanmar, Kazakhstan, Belize and Mongolia in 42nd spot.

That’s not something to be proud of.

Sure we can’t control institutional pay gaps and we can’t halt the fact that on average women live longer – and who would want to! But we can take advantage of a long-term wealth plan that longevity affords us, using tools that help bridge the gap in our own lives. So give yourself permission to empower you and to gather the tools you need to succeed.

Financial independence is tantamount to financial fitness. Leaving finances up to your partner can leave you vulnerable if that relationship ends. Understand money. Upskilling is the best insurance policy to protect you if things don’t pan out as planned.

It’s easy to do, smartMonday’s nest contains smart, easy actions that will boost your financial wellbeing. It’s important because learning about your financial position can help you generate momentum. Finding that first step towards superannuation supremacy is as simple as logging into your super account and looking at what you have and planning where you want to get to.  

When people are more aware of what they have, they’re more likely to take an interest and do things that impact it over the long run.

GAP TRAP #2 – Failing to find your ‘why’

In a world where success seems too closely linked to income, be smarter.

With global norms teetering towards a mindset that’s spend with plastic and technology and blame and shame ourselves before anyone else has the chance to, be smarter.

When we spend too much on coffee, or coffee table books to keep up with the (Bridget) Joneses, be smarter.

Let’s be clear.  There is a long way to go to solve gender pay gaps and the knock-on retirement savings gap, but individual change starts with you. Enhance your understanding to stand taller today by discovering ‘why’ you want to avoid the gap trap.

It might be for you, it might be you being a role model to help show your kids the way. A lot of attitudes to money are learned, so be a great role model.


For me it was to make sure I had a comfortable retirement.

I convinced 20-year old me to put away $20 a week into my super by salary sacrifice. My $20 a week  is on track to add up to $180k that I personally sacrificed, but my interest earned on the total Super pot is now tracking toward $380k in additional retirement dollars by the time I’m 66 - giving me a lot of extra retirement years to feel secure in. I’m 37 today and it’s a thrill to see this trajectory working in my favour.

We’re still gobsmacked why everyone in Australia doesn’t do a little bit of salary sacrifice over the long term, I spend hours on the compound interest calculators showing people the concept. Then it’s up to them to decide what’s right and seek advice if needed. But before that they always need to discover their ‘why’.

My why is retirement security. What’s yours?


In our opinion the whole point of good money habits, paying down debt, saving and investing, stems from the value that can come from compound interest, it is the eighth wonder of the world.

Members of smartMonday can call our smartCoach for tips on their investments, insurance and contribution strategy to supercharge interest and their interest in their super today. 1300 COACH 1 (1300 262 241)

To explore more on the topic of Balancing for Better listen to our Podcast.

About the Authors

Shannon O’Shea

As a woman working in Superannuation for more than 15 years and having delivered countless presentation around financial fitness and wellbeing, Shannon is passionate about helping people make a change and closing the gap for women.

Shannon holds an MBA, a degree in Art History, Fine Art and Fashion and recently took part in the Women on Boards program.

Shannon is a Principal at Aon, leading the smartMonday Member and Corporate Services team. 

Janine Robertson

Janine holds a BA (Tourism Management).  

In 2015, she completed her Diploma in Financial Planning. 

Janine is currently completing a Certificate in Behavioural Economics and writing a book that will be released later this year.

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