Women at Work: Labour Market Participation

Labour Force Participation

In 2011, the labour force participation rate for men was highest for the 35-44 age group at 91.9%. For women, the highest participation rate occurred in the 25-34 age group, with 78.2% of women of that age in the labour force. The participation rate for older women was much lower than that for men, with a rate of 34.9% for women aged 60-64 compared with 55.8% for men of that age.

Women represented 44.7% of the labour force in 2011. Half of the labour force in the age group 20-24 was female, the highest proportion across all age groups. The labour force participation rate for women increased from 48.1% in 2001 to 54.5% in 2007 before falling slightly to 53.3% in 2011. The participation rate for men rose from 71.7% in 2001 to 73.6% in 2007 and then decreased sharply to 68.4% in 2011.

Between 2001 and 2011 the gap in the labour force participation rate between men and women narrowed from 23.6 to 15.1 percentage points.

Source: Women and Men in Ireland 2011 CSO


A Woman’s Place: Female Participation in the Irish Labour Market (2009).

This report was carried out by The Economic and Social Research Institute on behalf of The Equality Authority.

Drawing on a wide range of evidence, the research describes how women’s participation in the labour market changed since the mid-1990s and examined whether changing participation has been associated with a narrowing of gender differentials in pay and occupational position.

This study investigated changes in women’s participation in the Irish labour market between 1997 and 2007. The period was marked by strong economic growth, rapid labour market expansion, including a large increase in migrant workers, and significant changes in a number of key policy areas (for example, extensions to maternity leave, the introduction of parental leave, and the establishment of the National Minimum Wage).

Full Report: