UK - The pensions savings gap between the sexes has widened, and women are likely to receive lower contributions from employers to occupational schemes, according to a report published by Scottish Widows.

A survey of over 5,000 people in the UK, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Edinburgh-based life insurance firm, suggests at least 54% of men who could and should save for retirement are doing so - up from 49% last year - compared with just 41% of women, indicating the pension income gap between men and women may be widening further.

More specifically, the third annual report - entitled What women need: pension provision for today and tomorrow - found male workers generally receive greater employer support towards savings in an occupational pension than women as typical employer contributions are 6.5% of men's annual salaries compared with 5.7% for women.

That said, employers are not actively choosing to discriminate between men and women Ian Naismith, head of pensions development at Scottish Widows, told IPE.

"We don't think [employers] are choosing to contributing different amounts to men and women, it tends to be the case men are in better pension schemes because they are in higher positions and perhaps in industries where pension arrangements are better," said Naismith.

This could also be, in part, because 56% of men do consider the financial implications of signing up to a company pension scheme as an important factor in their decision to join a firm, compared with just 49% of women, while women's income are, on average, around 62% lower than men, the report continued.

That said, there is a clear distinction between the amount of contributions men and women are themselves willing to commit to pensions plans, according to the study, as evidence shows men are more likely to belong to their workplace scheme and contribute 10.3% of their earnings on average, compared with 9.3% by women.

This may not be helped by a lack of equality in thinking, as evidence also suggested at least one in four women believe their spouse will provide for them financially in retirement.

Moreover, women are more likely to use their earnings to finance home and family life,  the report has found, as women are more likely to only think about starting a pension once their children have left home, rather than at a much younger age and when they start work.

While education is needed across the board to encourage women to improve their pensions income potential, employers could be doing more to help, suggested Naismith.

"There is a need to constantly remind people about pensions, to keep it at the forefront of discussion. The likes of the [UK] Thoresen Review, on giving guidance and advice to people questions how to get it to them in the first place who might not think about it otherwise. But employers could do more, as they might only be giving out a leaflet rather than actively promoting take-up," added Naismith.