This study analyses female native Dutch and ethnic minority employment patterns in the Dutch labour market. Focusing on life-course employment patterns, it aims to find out if native Dutch and ethnic minority women in the Netherlands have undergone a transition towards more labour market participation between 1991 and 2002. Three patterns of change in employment integration by age can be discerned. First, increasing employment levels for native Dutch women of almost all age groups, but in particular for those age groups that have to combine employment with rearing children. Second, a high employment level for Surinamese and Antillean women, revealing strong employment integration of all age groups, so that combining market work and rearing children does not hamper labour market integration. Third, a more traditional pattern for Turkish and Moroccan women, yet indicating an increased employment rate for almost all age groups, in particular 20-24 years. We find that critical life events such as motherhood have different effects on employment for Mediterranean, Caribbean and native Dutch women. In addition, the analysis shows that the attachment of both native Dutch and ethnic minority women to the labour market becomes stronger, and the influence of motherhood becomes smaller, over time. All in all, Caribbean women are the most attached to the labour market. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.