Close Search
News  |  Careers

Most Working Women Not Caring for Children - ABS

7 March 2013 at 3:16 pm
Staff Reporter
New research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that the majority of working women are not caring for young children despite most employers still relying on family-friendly policies to achieve greater gender equity.

Staff Reporter | 7 March 2013 at 3:16 pm


Most Working Women Not Caring for Children - ABS
7 March 2013 at 3:16 pm

New research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that the majority of working women are not caring for young children despite most employers still relying on family-friendly policies to achieve greater gender equity.

Commissioned by gender equity workplace specialists, Optimiss Consulting, the ABS research focussed on working women aged 25 to 54.

It found that more than half (53%) of women working part-time and 79% of women working full-time have no children under 12, while 79% of full-time mums have no children under 12. 64% of mums working full-time have no children under the age of 18.

“We know Australia is still struggling to achieve greater gender diversity from middle management to the most senior ranks, particularly in the private sector, and as diversity experts who work closely with leading companies we wanted to uncover factors not being explored,” Optimiss Consulting director, Kate O’Reilly said.

“The ABS data reveals what we have long suspected – a great many women in the Australian workforce either do not have children or do not have young children.

“Having policies for working parents is important and employers should continue to provide options for this group of employees but this should not be where gender equality efforts end.”

O’Reilly also said that family-friendly policies do not address many of the issues holding women back such as pay equality, access to line management roles, unconscious bias, recruitment and promotion and access to training and mentoring.

“Harder, but also rewarding, is the work that will lead organisations to ask themselves the really tough questions that bring about permanent cultural change,” she said.

“Getting the policies right for working parents is a good first step for employers to take but their efforts shouldn’t stop there if they want to reap the benefits of being able to draw from a larger talent pool when recruiting and promoting people for middle to senior roles.” 

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at or download our contributor guidelines.

Get more stories like this



  • Anonymous Anonymous says:

    More useful information, strategies and keys for success might be learned from older women in senior management roles who did survive and juggle full time work with caring for a young family? They may be in few in number but they are around, still working and have happy and well adjusted adult children.

  • Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Several comments
    1. “Family friendly” being equated to “women friendly is like saying 2=1. Work places need to have flexible arrangements for men and women before they become truly family friendly. Men are disciminated against and looked at strangely if they want “family friendly” conditions. My late husband would not have been taken seriously if he had of lived long enough to have asked to go down to four days a week which was what we both wanted so our kids were only in child care 3 days a week. Another friend of mine’s husband does his full time hours in 4 days but is constantly under pressure to go back to five days – especially “now (your) wife is home on mat leave”. Only two examples I know – but both from families where the wife and husband are equally devoted to their kids and view the “hard work” aspects of having a family as a shared responsibility, and a thing of value.
    2. These debates seem to always assume that everyone wants to have a full time serious career. We are all different. Having the flexibility to work part time suits lots of us – especially someone like me: widowed with young children. Having said that I work in an office where everyone is treated as professionals, we have won many awards for the quality, innovation, and efficacy of our work – and we are all part time!

  • Will Will says:

    Interesting statistics – it makes sense that a lot of working women don’t have young children or children at all. I’d be interested to know how many women choose to leave the workforce until their children grow up. That does have quite a few long term effects on gender equality – particularly career development and personal wealth (superannuation and other personal savings) for women.

  • Rosey Rosey says:

    Here’s a suggestion for family friendly–how about more options for sole parents who have to work (Centrelink sanctioned) but also want to be there for their kids before and after school, and on school holidays? I am a widow with two primary school kids. I have no assets and I have chosen to go back to study as I can’t get work (no-one wants to hire a person in my position; apparently having children cancels out my other attributes of being intelligent and capable). Where are the family-friendly workplaces who will offer school hours work and be happy to employ a single mum? And why is Centrelink so keen to pay me to pay others to raise my children for me???

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Is it a good idea for NFPs to recruit over the Christmas period?

Luke Michael

Thursday, 2nd December 2021 at 4:57 pm

Struggling to network after lockdown? We’ve got you covered

Maggie Coggan

Thursday, 2nd December 2021 at 2:27 pm

The path to healing and leading

Maggie Coggan

Tuesday, 30th November 2021 at 8:51 am

Are you making the wrong career move?

Maggie Coggan

Thursday, 25th November 2021 at 3:15 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook