‘I had to take control’: gendered finance rationality in the UK

Ariane Agunsoye*, Hayley James

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bringing together insights from feminist political economy and everyday financialization, this paper explores the complex nature of women’s pension decisions. Women in the UK experience structural constraints originating from a pension system which ignores socially reproductive activities, and they face limitations in pension planning due to prevalent gender norms. Both aspects have a significant impact on women’s long-term financial wellbeing and yet little attention has been paid to how they operate within these constraints, ultimately leading to women’s behaviors being construed as passive or irrational. Drawing on 61 interviews, our paper conceptualizes pension practices adopted by women through gendered finance rationality, defined as variegated financial practices shaped by the gendered context in which they arise. Rather than being irrational or passive victims of an unequal welfare system, women actively engage with the limitations of the pension system and seek out asset strategies which seem more suited to their life trajectories, but implicitly reinforce gendered wealth inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1486-1509
Number of pages24
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Issue number4
Early online date23 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022, The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.2022. Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funding: The second interview set was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [grant number ES/J500094/1] and the Pensions Policy Institute, an independent research organization with a charitable objective to inform the policy debate on pensions and retirement income provision.


  • gender
  • gender norms
  • wealth inequality
  • rationality
  • unpaid work


Dive into the research topics of '‘I had to take control’: gendered finance rationality in the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this