In welfare state research, family policy has been depicted as a main tool for bringing women and mothers into the labour market. However, beyond the issue of employment, the role of policy is less clear. Today, European women are catching up with men in terms of labour force participation, while outnumbering them at the universities. Meanwhile, substantial gender inequalities remain in paid and unpaid work as well as in health and wellbeing, even in countries with extensive family policies. In the current situation, new puzzles and dilemmas appear. Issues of work-family reconciliation have soared to the top of political agendas and work-family research has grown dramatically, yet, the mechanisms sustaining gender inequalities are not fully understood.
A central question is whether family policies will facilitate or hamper the transition from a 1,5-earner society to a dual-earner/dual-carer society based on equal roles and responsibilities. Here, an influential strand in current debates argues that policies supporting maternal employment will hamper women’s careers by strengthening labour market segregation and employer discrimination. Also, both work-family dilemmas and the relevance of family policies may differ between men and women in different groups, based on class, ethnicity or sexuality.
For this session, we welcome contributions addressing the interplay between family policies, working life and family from a gender perspective. We encourage cross-country analyses as well as single-country studies and are interested in both quantitative and qualitative studies exploring gender, work-family interactions and policy. The role of family policies may be considered both at the contextual and individual levels, either more broadly as policy configurations or in relation to specific policies such as parental leaves or childcare.
The theme of the session invites a range of subjects including but not limited to wages and careers, work conditions, labour market segregation, division of paid and unpaid work, parental roles and family dynamic as well as different aspects of health, for example stress and work-family conflict.