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Australian Women’s Labor Participation Could Stall Post-Pandemic

  • Female participation tumbled early in pandemic, then recovered
  • Economist Risse says ‘holistic’ approach needed to inequities

Australian women’s labor market participation is at risk of stalling or even reversing unless the burden of unpaid housework is eased and masculine stereotypes are overcome, said economist Leonora Risse, who specializes in gender equality.

The female participation rate tumbled to 57.5% early in 2020, when virus lockdowns forced women out of the workforce, then recovered as pandemic policies like temporary free childcare helped ease the pressure. It now stands at 61.5%, still well below men’s 70.8% and Risse, a senior lecturer at Melbourne’s RMIT University, warned women might now be plateauing.