OBJECTIVE To explore the work transitions of Chilean women. PARTICIPANTS Observations and dialogue of Chilean women and their experiences in current and past work. METHOD A personal and historical reflection to understand the experiences of work for Chilean women. RESULTS Exploring work transitions requires an understanding of the macro level historical impact on the participation of women in work in Chilean society. CONCLUSIONS Macro level factors such as participation in the free labour market economy ultimately impacts on the individual choices of the women of Chile regarding their opportunities to transition into productive paid employment. The understanding of work transitions must consider the influences of the labour market economy.