There have been remarkable changes in female labour force participation in the past century. In Australia, the first wave of change included the introduction of equal pay and the softening of attitudes towards married women at work and the second wave of change introduced anti-discrimination legislation and family-friendly working conditions. Arguably a third wave of change is emerging, as labour market pressures — caused in part by an ageing workforce — require further efforts to increase the participation of underrepresented groups such as women. The existing literature considers how age affects female participation but not the reverse question of how increased female participation has affected the age of the workforce. This research begins to fill this gap. Using an indicative study of an Australian public service, it explores increases in female participation and the associated increases in age in the case study public service, with a particular focus on the first wave of reforms in the 1970s and the second wave of reforms in the 1990s. The research demonstrates an association between increased female participation and the increasing age of public workforces — in a period of 25 years, the case-study public service was transformed from being predominantly young and male to being predominantly older and female. Policymakers need to reconsider whether the ageing public workforce is a problem or simply a side effect of worthwhile employment reforms that supported female participation.