Middle aged and older women and work - the aspirations of older women and the challenges they face

The increased automation of semi-skilled roles puts older, low paid women at risk. They will face many barriers to re-employment. Despite this, the aspirations and needs of older women – particularly those in low paid work - are under-researched and issues such as work/life balance and agile working are excluded from discussions on gender equality and an ageing workforce


Key facts about older women in low paid work:*

  • 47% of women work in jobs classified as low-skilled, compared to only 18% of men.
  • Female-dominated low skilled work pays less on average than male-dominated low skilled work.
  • Over half of older women work in just three sectors (public administration, health and education) and in particular, public administration is at high risk of being replaced by technology.
  • Sectors with the most minimum wage jobs are hospitality and retail – they account for just over 45% of minimum wage jobs, followed by social care, cleaning, and employment agencies which each accounted for between 6–7% of such jobs.
  • The retail industry is at high risk of automation and 69% of the retail workforce are women and 1.2 million workers in retail are over 50 years old in the UK.


This factsheet provides a basis for understanding more about the aspirations and needs of older women.  As jobs become automated or digitalised it is crucial that employers can prevent early exit from the employment market and can learn how to attract and retain older female workers. Not only to prevent losing their unique experience and skills but to negate the possibility of reducing economic empowerment. 




*Citations for facts within document 

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