4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, August 2014  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/08/2014   
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26 August 2014
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Women’s participation in the labour force lower than men’s

Women’s labour force participation rate continues to be lower than men’s, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The ABS found that in 2013-14, 65 per cent of women aged 20-74 were working or looking for work compared to 78 per cent for men of the same age. Over the last five years, men’s participation in the labour force decreased slightly from 79 per cent in 2008-09 while women’s participation remained steady at around 65 per cent.

This gap widens with the arrival of children and then reduces as children enter school. Mothers with dependent children had a much lower labour force participation rate than fathers. While 57.5 per cent of mothers whose youngest child is aged 0-5 years were participating in the labour force, 94 per cent of fathers, whose youngest child is 0-5 years, were working or looking for work.

The age of a mother’s youngest child also had an impact on the average hours that mothers worked. Director of the Living Conditions Section at the ABS, Ms Caroline Daley, commented that employed mothers worked more hours per week when their youngest child was school aged, while fathers’ hours of work remained steady regardless of their child’s age.

“Our latest data shows that of mothers working full-time, those with children aged 6-14 years worked on average four hours more per week than those with children aged 0-5 years.

"Similarly, mothers who worked part-time and have children aged 6-14 years worked, on average, approximately two hours more per week than those with children aged 0-5 years,” said Ms Daley.

However, more mothers who have young children are now in the labour force compared to five years ago. The participation rate for mothers who have children aged 0-5 years increased 2.5 percentage points from 55 per cent in 2008-09.

The participation rate for mothers whose youngest child is school aged (6-14 years) was 78 per cent compared to 92 per cent of fathers with school aged children (6-14 years) who were working or looking for work.

More information can be found in Gender Indicators (cat. no 4125.0) available for free download from the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au).

Media notes:

  • This media release replaces release no 123/2014 issued on 26 August the media release was revised to clarify the meaning of labour force participation. The original media release referred to women and men participating in the labour force as 'working' and now clarifies that they were 'working or looking for work'.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Average hours worked is based on financial year average hours worked. The time includes all paid and unpaid overtime but excludes hours paid for but not worked during the reference period due to leave (e.g. annual, sick or maternity leave) or for any other reason (e.g. public holidays, meal breaks, time spent on travel to and from work).
  • Full-time or part-time status is based on usual and actual hours worked by the respondent during the survey reference week. Those who usually work 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and those who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week are classified as full-time. Those who usually work less than 35 hours (in all jobs) and did so during the reference week (including those who were away from work during the reference week) are classified as part-time.
  • Average actual hours worked per week may appear reduced for some populations more than others due to the method of determining full-time or part-time status (see previous note). For instance, the average actual hours worked per week for full-time female parents whose youngest child is aged 0-5 years is consistently below 35 hours. This is likely to be due to significant amounts of paid leave being taken reducing the averaged figure, however as they usually work 35 hours or more they are included in the full-time population.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.