Women are a pesky gender. They are going along, doing their bit for the economy and being productive members of the workforce and then boom. They get to their mid-20s, and suddenly their workforce participation drops. For some reason it doesn’t recover for another two decades. Australian women are particularly prone to this. That’s why Australia ranks 44th in the world in terms of women’s workforce participation. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that in 2011-12, men had a labour force participation rate of 79 per cent, 14 per cent higher than women. The Grattan Institute estimated last year a 6 per cent increase in women’s workforce participation would increase the country’s GDP by $25 billion.