The article discusses Istat data on «Unpaid activities to the benefit of others» (2013). The evidence shows an apparent gender parity, with men slightly more numerous in organized volunteering activities. Women volunteer in organizations more than men only when they are very young, still living with their parents, and unemployed. This evidence stimulated further investigation into the impact of the life cycle dimensions - notably family care and child rearing - and of paid work (or its absence) on women's propensities to volunteer in organizations. The multivariate analysis applied to the universe of women volunteering in organizations uncovered seven distinct profiles, which were then comparatively assessed with regards to age, occupation, education and digital competences. These analyses suggest that family obligations are the major barrier that prevent women from participating in volunteer work, and shed light on the gender-specific issues that arise in women's life-cycles.