Although 2010 was generally a good year for retirement plan investors, with average balances returning to pre-recession levels, MassMutual found in a survey of 1,517 participants, women appeared to become far more cautious investors—with gap in confidence between women and men widening.

Whereas 16:1 of men believe the stock market will improve rather than decline in the next 12 months, the ratio is half, 8:1, for women.

And confidence in making their own investment decisions fell last year for investors, with only 37.3% expressing confidence, down from 42.5% in 2009. Broken out by gender, only 25.9% of women are confident making their own investment decisions, compared to 44.1% of men.

Likewise, 71% of men said they enjoy learning about investments, compared to 54.4% of women, and more women (53.1%) prefer to spend as little time as possible on investment decisions than men (35.1%).

And more people (66.6%) are worried they will not have enough saved for retirement than last year (64.9%). Among women, 74.7% are concerned, compared to 61.9% of men. Among all participants, 39.8% identified being able to retire as their greatest concern, up from 37.3% last year.

And people are becoming more conservative; among those who made a change to their investing approach in the past 12 months, 61.7% became more conservative and 38.3% more aggressive.

“Being able to retire is the greatest overall concern among defined contribution plan participants by a large margin,” said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual’s retirement services

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