A Madonna Generation? Older Women defy employment figures

Labour Party

A generation older women have defied the recession research for the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) has revealed.

The ‘Madonna generation’ statistics reveal there are some 200,000 more women aged 50 to 64 in work than at the start of the recession in 2008, compared to just 3,000 more men in jobs.

However, while these figures are encouraging and the number of employed women has increased by almost half a million the figures on further investigation indicate that more women are defining themselves as self-employed. Some 172,000 women class themselves as self-employed. While the number of women in full time employment has fallen by 220,000.

The CIPD report also revealed that women had done better in managerial roles but fared worse in roles traditionally considered ‘feminine jobs.’

The ‘Madonna generation’ is really having an impact though and has taken those who monitor employment trends by surprise. The report found that Women aged 50 to 64, and men and women aged 65 and over are the only age groups to have registered an increase in both the number in work and employment rates since the start of the jobs recession and have also registered the smallest increases in unemployment.

There are several reasons the CIPD give for these surprising figures and while it’s important to be encouraged by the stats it’s also important to be aware of the reasons which support the figures.

The CIPD suggest explanation in the following ways:

  • The government is encouraging more lone parent mothers to seek work.
  • Women may be entering the labour market from households where a male partner has lost a job, or to supplement the pay of a male partner which may have been squeezed in the recession.
  • More older women have been looking to find work because of dwindling pension income. There has also been an increase in younger female migrant workers.
  • The preponderance of part-time jobs being created in the labour market at present might be enticing in women returning from a period of early years childrearing and looking for suitable part-time positions to combine work with care for slightly older school age children.’

Despite this I hope that we see a continuing trend of women and especially older women, who bring life experience into the workplace, seeking fulfilling roles and continuing this encouraging trend.