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This article examines the relationship between the transmission of employment patterns over generations of women and the spread of women's employment. It looks at how a macro phenomenon, the incorporation of women in the labour market, operates at the micro level and the extent to which continuities exist between grandmothers, mothers and daughters that delay or advance the trend toward the insertion of all adults in the labour market. In this sense we can speak of path dependency, a concept that can be useful to understand the transmission among generations of women of their relationship to economic activity. Qualitative longitudinal data is used, based on the discourses of ten triads of women, each characterised as traditional, transitional, regressive or modern, representing different combinations of paid and unpaid work.