For one thing, women tend to live longer, so whatever retirement money they do have has to stretch further. The average life expectancy for a 65-year-old woman today is 86.6, compared with 84.3 for men, according to the Social Security Administration.
Women are more likely than men to lose a partner in old age. In 2013, 49.7 percent of women aged 65 or over were widowed, divorced, or separated, compared with 22.8 percent of men, according to Census Bureau data.
These events often have a devastating effect on women's finances: a woman's household income falls 41 percent after divorce, on average, almost double the decline for men, according to the Government Accountability Office. Women are also more vulnerable in widowhood: after losing a partner their income declines an average of 37 percent, compared with 22 percent for men.
In addition, while women have been gaining confidence when it comes to managing money, a study by Prudential found that just one-third gave themselves an "A" for their money management skills.
"In the U.S. and other countries, it's a hangover from prior generations in which women were not involved in family finances," said Catherine Collinson, head of both centers. She also faulted the paucity of information sources for women. "In our own scan of available websites that are geared toward women, there is a greater emphasis on bridal gowns than budgets," she said.
Researchers found that homemakers were more likely than other workers to associate negative outcomes, such as ill health, insecurity and poverty, with retirement.