"When Jeanne Majors, 63, took an early retirement in December 2005, she assumed that she would pick up a part-time job and be in good financial shape. She didn't know that her future would quickly fall apart.
Majors, who is single and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., learned the hard way about the retirement obstacles that most women face today. When the economy slid into the recession, she lost her part-time job and could not find another.
"They wanted somebody young," Majors says. "Or if I was a man, somebody would have hired me at my age. I'm not sorry that I retired, but things didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. Everything went bust."
Majors is an extreme example of how women continue to face financial hardships that could have a devastating impact on their retirement. Financial experts and studies say that the gender pay gap is not disappearing -- women continue to earn less than men and are less likely to save for retirement.
In addition, the Great Recession has forced many women back into the job market at a time they thought they would be enjoying retirement.
'Many older women are frightened," says Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research. "They just never thought that they could be in their 50s or early 60s and not have a job. They have seen their savings, their home value and their retirement all decline because they've had to use it to live. And they don't know how to rebuild it.'"