A statistical snapshot of women in the Australian workforce

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A statistical snapshot of women in the Australian workforce

This story was first published on Friday 8 March 2019. If you wish to use this content, please contact media@dese.gov.au to confirm that the information is still current.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March each year, highlighting the achievements of women across the world.

Women are a key part of the Australian workforce, both as employees and business owners.

Here is a statistical snapshot on women in the Australian labour market:


The January 2019 labour force statistics indicated that there are 5,983,900 women employed in Australia, which is a 2.4% increase over the last 12 months.

For comparison purposes, the number of employed men in Australia is currently 6,767,900.

Part-time employment

In January 2019 there were 2,753,600 women working part-time and 1,255,100 men working part-time.

Women working part-time account for 68.7per cent of all part-time employment.


The female unemployment rate as at January 2019 is 5.2%, down from 5.6% recorded 12 months ago.

The number of Australian females recorded as unemployed is 326,000, a drop of 5.7% over the past year.

In comparison, there are 347,500 unemployed males, with the male unemployment rate at 4.9%.


The underemployment rate refers to the percentage of people in the labour force who, although they are currently working, want and are available for additional hours of work.

For females, the most recent rate of underemployment was 10.4% in January 2019. This compares with a male underemployment rate of 6.2%.

Participation rate

The female participation rate increased in January 2019 to a high of 60.7%.

The male participation rate was 70.9%, which is a slight reduction on the 71.2% recorded 12 months ago.

Employment projections for females

The Department of Jobs and Small Business employment projections show that, over the five years to May 2023, growth in female employment is likely to continue outpacing that of male employment, driven by strong projected increases in female full-time employment.

Over the five years to May 2023, female employment is projected to grow by 8.8 per cent compared with 5.6 per cent for males.

You can find more information about this in the Gender Employment Projections 2018 Report released in December 2018.

More women working in areas of projected employment growth

The strong growth in Health Care and Social Assistance in recent years is projected to continue, with this industry projected to add significantly more jobs than any other industry (up by 250,300).

Strong employment growth is also projected for:

Women make up small proportions of employment in the two industries projected to lose jobs over the five years to May 2023. These industries are Wholesale Trade and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing.

Female business owners and operators

There were 715,300 women business operators in Australia in January 2019 (or 34.9% share of all business operators), compared with 1.3 million (65.1%) men business operators.

This is an increase of 46,600 (or 2.0%) over the past 12 months. (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.001)

As at January 2019, women who operated their own business made up 12.1% of the 5.9 million employed Australian women. Men who operated their own business represent 19.8% of the 6.7 million employed Australian men.

Correct at time of publication.