Is there a gender gap when it comes to saving for retirement?

According to MSN Money’s Liz Weston, there definitely is. In a recent story, Weston takes a hard look at evidence that women are entering retirement with substantially less saved than their male counterparts. The median retirement savings for men was $33,547 in 2010, according to investment company Vanguard, compared to $21,499 for women — a difference of 56 percent.

But while the conventional wisdom has long been that women don’t contribute to workplace retirement plans as aggressively as men do, the Vanguard data suggests women actually contribute more to their workplace retirement plans.

So how do they end up with less in retirement savings? Weston believes this is due to several factors, including the notions that men tend to chase higher paying jobs and that women are more likely to exit the workforce to care for children or elderly family members. And of course, many women earn less than their male counterparts.

Weston says women should follow these rules to ensure they have enough money to get by during their later years:

Put Retirement First

Resist the urge to make debt elimination or your child’s college tuition your financial priority. When it comes to saving, make your retirement fund your number one concern.

Open an IRA

If your workplace doesn’t offer a 401(k), find an IRA that you can use to fund your retirement.

Ask Your Spouse for Help

Does your household rely solely on your spouse’s income? If so, you can still have an IRA; spouses can legally make contributions for their nonworking spouse.

Work Through It

While it may be tempting to leave the workforce for an extended amount of time to take care of a sick relative or watch a young child grow, remember that days without income are days without saving. If you must take time off, try to supplement your income with part-timework or by starting a side business.

Are you a woman who is working hard to save enough for retirement? How do you make sure that you’ll have enough for those later years?