Older Women Matter


DCA research released on 23 May 2013 found that older women (defined as 45 years plus) represent a sizeable and growing segment of the labour force but Australian organisations are failing to fully harness their skills and talents. Furthermore, Australia’s performance in this area lags substantially behind comparable countries, such as New Zealand.

The research found:

  • Older women now constitute 17% of Australia’s workforce with 45% of women aged 45 and over now in the labour force compared to less than a quarter (24%) in 1978.
  • Older women’s participation in the labour market is substantially lower than men’s in all age groups − as much as 17 points lower for women aged 55-64. The underemployment rate for women aged 45 and over is 6.5% compared to 4.7% for men of the same age.
  • The most recent comparable data shows participation rates for Australian women aged 55-64 of 54.9% compared to 72% in Sweden, 69.8% in New Zealand, 59.5% in the US and 57.4% in Canada. Iceland, Norway, Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Finland also all have greater participation of this group of women. If Australia had the same participation of people aged 55+ as New Zealand, GDP in 2012 would have been 4% higher.
  • Employers can reap significant benefits if they review their attraction, retention, transition and flexible working strategies with older women in mind. DCA recommends seven key actions employers can take.

The research, Older Women Matter: Harnessing the Talents of Australia’s Older Female Workforce, was proudly supported by the National Australia Bank (NAB) and was produced in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission with Sageco.  


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The suggested citation for this report is:

Diversity Council Australia (Tilly, J., OLeary, J. and Russell, G.) Older Women Matter: Harnessing the Talents of Australia’s Older Female Workforce, Sydney, Diversity Council Australia, 2013.

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