A MassMutual Retirement study released on Tuesday found that women put their retirement assets in target-date options twice as often as risk-based options in the fourth quarter of 2010, while men were just as likely to use a target-date fund as they were a risk-based one.

In general, women in retirement plans administered by MassMutual have been moving an increasing percentage of their retirement savings into asset allocation investments, such as target-date funds and risk-based funds. At the end of 2010, women had 24.3% of their retirement assets in asset allocation options, while men had 24%. Yet among female investors, average balances in target-date investments were about double those of risk-based options, while men were split roughly evenly between target-date and risk-based options. MassMutual's data reveals that men prefer risk-based investment selections and exhibit a preference for having more control over their investments.

In fact, in a recent survey of participants in MassMutual retirement plans, 53.1% of female participants prefer to spend as little time as possible on making investment decisions compared to 35.1% for men. In addition, women are far less confident in making their own investment decisions, with only 25.9% of women saying they are compared to 44.1% for men.

Meanwhile, balances for women are 40% lower than men’s and their deferral percentages continue to fall behind those of men by 0.5 percentage points. The good news is balances for women gained 5.7% on average for the quarter, while men’s increased only 5.5%.

“MassMutual has invested significant resources in participant education and, in fact, participant visits to self-service education modules increased by 6% during the fourth quarter vs. the third quarter 2010, and are up 21% for the year,” says Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual's Retirement Services Division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC, in a statement.  “These statistics support the fact that participants are taking more interest in managing their retirement accounts and are taking advantage of the education and saving tools available to them online. Clearly, MassMutual's participant education is valued and appreciated by our retirement plan participants. The decreased participant activities and increased educational usage are also indicative of overall improved confidence in the economy and individual employment outlook.”

MassMutual serves approximately 1.2 million participants. MassMutual Retirement Plan Participant Survey was conducted with 1,517 participants between November 15, 2010 and January 15, 2011.