As more and more mature women return to vocational learning, the issues facing this group of learners are being acknowledged and attempts made to address these concerns. Many existing strategies, developed to address the needs of other groups of learners, are applied to mature women. These women are drawn into a formal learning environment in which their everyday lives and homeplace experiences are invisible or misunderstood. Based on research into the experiences of 12 mature‐age women learners in Australia, this paper explores some issues for mature women returning to vocational education. I use the notion of women’s virtual handbags to describe how, within the current framework of lifelong learning, women’s homeplace experiences not only continue to be invisible, but can also be misconstrued to effectively create problems for women learners.