NUI Galway Hosts International Conference on Gender and Extended Working Life

NUI Galway Hosts International Conference on Gender and Extended Working Life

A major international conference on the topic of Extended Working Life policy took place at NUI Galway on the 22-23 November. The conference entitled ‘Gender and health impacts of policies extending working life’ is based on the work of COST Action IS1409, an international network involving over 100 researchers from 34 countries.

The network which has run since April 2015 is funded by COST – European Cooperation in Science and Technology. COST provides networking opportunities for researchers and innovators in order to strengthen Europe’s capacity to address scientific, technological and societal challenges. The network and conference will be hosted by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology in NUI Galway.

Dr Áine Ní Léime from the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway and Chair of COST Action, said: “This conference showcases the work of the COST Action network over four years and offers an opportunity to open up a debate on the complex issue of extended working life in Ireland. While working past traditional state pension age may be beneficial for many people in rewarding sedentary jobs, it may be more problematic for those in physically demanding work or those in precarious employment.”

This conference featured over 50 presentations on the gender and health implications of policies designed to extend working life. These policies have been introduced across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries as a response to population ageing and anticipated increased pension costs. They include increasing state pension age and requiring increased contributions to qualify for state pensions, which have important implications for different groups of workers.

Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament gave an opening address by video. Keynote speakers included Dame Professor Carol Black, Newnham College Cambridge, Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the NHS, Professor Chris Phillipson, University of Manchester, Professor Fiona Alpass, Massey University, New Zealand and Professor Libby Brooke, University of Melbourne.

Mairead McGuinness, Vice President of the European Parliament, says: “With better diets and medical advancements, we are living longer and healthier lives. We are also working longer, a development which some welcome and others do not. This conference will look at the gender and health impacts of policies extending working life, an important and timely topic. We have seen significant changes in women’s involvement in the workforce. In Ireland before 1973, women who worked in the civil service were obliged to retire once married – things are very different today with women actively participating in the workforce. However, women today across the EU typically have lower pensions than men; for many reasons such as lower earnings; having part-time work or needing to take time out from their careers to look after family members. The contribution of women is sometimes overlooked, particularly in rural areas and on farms, where their work is not always recognised or counted.”

There was also a roundtable session on Extended Working Life policy in Ireland on Thursday, 22 November at 1.15pm involving policy-makers and stakeholders including representatives from the Irish Pensions Authority, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Eurofound, Age Action and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

The conference took place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, North Campus, NUI Galway on 22-23 November.

To register, visit:

The conference programme is available here

Keynote 1 – Dame Professor Carol Black

Policy Roundtable

The conference proceedings are available here