On average, women 65 years and older rely on a median income of around $16,000 a year—roughly $11,000 less than men of the same age, according to a Congressional analysis of Census data. And many elderly women rely exclusively on Social Security benefits.The poverty rate for all people 65 and older is 11 percent for women, compared with 6.5 percent for men. In a sorry statement about the intersection of race and gender, there's much less of a gender gap for Asian and Latino people—but Asian senior men have an 11.6 percent poverty rate compared to an 11.9 percent poverty rate for Asian senior women, while the numbers are 19.1 percent and 21.8 percent for Latinos.
Years women spend outside the paid workforce caring for children, aging parents, and sick family members have enormous value—just think about what it would cost to replace that unpaid work, done overwhelmingly by women, with paid help, even at the shockingly low wages such workers typically get. But not only is that work unpaid while it's being done, it leaves women with lower Social Security benefits as well as lower savings.
Our current system isn't working for women, and the senior poverty statistics now are just the beginning. There's a serious retirement crisis coming, and women and people of color are poised to be hit the hardest. Leaning in isn't going to be enough to fix it, either.