18/04/2012 12:31 BST | Updated 18/04/2012 12:59 BST

'Madonna' Women Buck Female Unemployment Trend

On a day when it's been reported that the number of women out of work in the UK has reached its highest level in 25 years despite overall figures dropping, there's one glimmer of light for ladies.

The latest Work Audit: Age, gender and the jobs recession survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), looking at how the recession has affected men and women of all ages, points to the relative success of older women.

Those aged 50-64 and those over 65 (as well as men aged over 65) are the only groups to have registered an increase both in the number in work and employment rates since the start of the recession. They have also registered the smallest increases in unemployment.

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the CIPD, said in a statement: "The economically active older woman is well on course to be ever more prominent in British workplaces in the coming years. Just why this is happening requires further examination, though the modern generation of 50 something women are more likely to view Madonna than Grandma Grey as a role model."

On the dismal overall job figures for women, the report notes that a relatively large rise (of 438,000) in the number of women participating in the labour market has contributed to the record high level of 1.12 million.

But even so, the difference between the male and female unemployment rate has increased from 0.8% to 1.3%.

Younger women looking to excel professionally might do well to head to parts of the country where men are in short supply. According to a report by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Business, when men are scarce, women delay having children and instead pursue high-paying careers.

In a statement, Kristina Durante, assistant professor of marketing, said: “Most women don’t realize it, but an important factor in a woman’s career choice is how easy or difficult it is to find a husband. When a woman’s dating prospects look bleak – as is the case when there are few available men – she is much more likely to delay starting a family and instead seek a career.”

In one study, researchers examined the ratio of single men to single women in each US state and Washington DC. They found that as bachelors became scarce, the percentage of women in high-paying careers increased, women delayed having children, and had fewer kids when they finally decided to start a family.

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