How is retirement treating you? 4



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After years in the workforce, you’ve finally retired! How is it working out for you? Are you spending more time in the kitchen at the beck and call of partner, children and grandchildren? Or are your dreams of travel, hobbies and relaxation being fulfilled?  Perhaps you’re a little bored and lonely or maybe your days busy doing all those things you’ve always wanted to do. How are your finances holding up? Do you miss your workplace and work colleagues?

Although research tells us quite a lot about men’s retirement, very little has been written about how women deal with this life transition. This is probably because we are the first generation of women in recent history to retire from the paid workforce in such large numbers.

The late-’60s and early-’70s heralded changes in women’s roles. The Women’s Movement led to attitude change about the place of women in society. The availability of childcare, flexible shopping hours and better pay rates for women workers made longer stretches in the paid workforce a more realistic possibility. Reflecting this, women’s participation in the labour force now is about double what it was in the 1960s.

Today, many of those women who were in the paid workforce the 1960s, ’70s or later, have recently retired, or are soon to do so. Were you one of those women, and if so, how are you coping with this life transition? What are the pleasures and benefits of retirement? What counts for successful retirement and how can we make it happen?

We are both retirees who are enjoying the time to do all the things we’ve been putting off for years, like reading, travel and more time with the family. But as social scientists we’re curious about how this stage of life is panning out for other women. We decided to do some more research, hence our ‘Women in Retirement’ project, under the auspices of Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Melbourne.

If you would like to have your say about the pleasures and problems of retirement for women, and you are female, aged 55 years or over, and substantially retired from the paid workforce, you are invited to participate in our anonymous survey here.

How do you feel about retirement?

Professor Susan Moore and Professor Doreen Rosenthal

Professor Susan Moore was Professor of Psychology at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research interests included developmental and health psychology. She retired in 2012. Professor Doreen Rosenthal was Professor of Women’s Health at The University of Melbourne until she retired early in 2008. She was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for her national and international work on adolescent development. Doreen and Susan have collaborated on adolescent research for more years than they care to remember. Now, as both are retired and grandmothers, they have decided to continue their research together but focus on topics relevant to their age group and current life experiences.

  1. sorry I’m a guy – but have been researching my impending retirement for years now – my take is that males get the emphasis in retirement stories because they have been historically the family bread winner – and vested interests are only interested in your ‘investible assets’ (read cash or something they can take a cut of when you give it to them to invest)

    while guys are typically relatively asocial or depend on the female partner for social life – and may suffer from depression from loneliness and lack of social interaction – females more typically maintain their social contacts which support them after retirement

    a few stories I have read of loner type females have indicated the same shock after retirement – of displacement, of loss, of ‘what do I do now’ – especially if they have moved to a new area where they don’t have an established social network – and of course any health declines or joint problems which often restrict movement after 70yo or so

    otherwise having habitually lived frugally I believe they tend to survive well on minimal funds – unless they’re a luxury queen who’ve always found a rich guy to pay for their excesses – a la Zha Zha – ‘I’m a great housekeeper – whenever I get divorced, I keep the house !’

    a woman who can cook for herself can live healthy frugally (rent is a question) – whereas a guy is more often not used to cooking – so can be seen visiting the local pub for deep fried food – there’s your heart attack city.

  2. Linda Kazlauskas (nee Finch)

    I am lonely and after years of fulfilling employment feeling empty.

    1 REPLY
    • That’s sad. Go volunteer at a hospital or a childcare centre. Meal on wheels or an op shop they are always looking for staff. Join a club there are lots to keep you busy and still give you a feeling of being wanted.

  3. I’d much rather be at work where I had much more independence both in terms of money and personal freedom. We moved away from where we lived for over 20 years, and with health issues there is minimal support or ability to get out of the house. My husband is kind and attentive – too much so, and very stubborn, so if I could find employment I’d be delighted!

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