Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century

Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century

New Barriers and Continuing Constraints

Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette

Both women and men strive to achieve a work and family balance, but does this imply more or less equality? Does the persistence of gender and class inequalities refute the notion that lives are becoming more individualised? Leading international authorities document how gender inequalities are changing and how many inequalities of earlier eras are being eradicated. However, this book shows there are new barriers and constraints that are slowing progress in attaining a more egalitarian society. Taking the new global economy into account, the expert contributors to this book examine the conflicts between different types of feminisms, revise old debates about ‘equality’ and ‘difference’ in the gendered nature of work and care, and propose new and innovative policy solutions.

Chapter 12: Feminist Policies and Feminist Conflicts: Daddy’s Care or Mother’s Milk?

Anne Lise Ellingsæter

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, family and gender policy, labour policy


Anne Lise Ellingsæter Gender relations of work and family are changing all over the Western world, accentuating the question of gender equality. The goal of gender equality and how to proceed politically is an unrelenting subject of feminist dispute (Orloff 2009). How to restructure work and family is no exception. For some, the dual earner/dual carer model, where women and men engage symmetrically in paid work and unpaid caregiving is the vision of a gender egalitarian society (for example Fraser 1994; Gornick and Meyers 2008). Gender egalitarianism will require transformations in gender divisions in employment and at home (Crompton 2009). Others question the underlying premise of this position, that women’s emancipation above all demands the dissolution of the gendered division of labour, and that asymmetry is associated with inequality, and symmetry with equality (Orloff 2009). Goals that expand choice or decisional autonomy are seen a better alternative for a multiplicity of gender arrangements among diverse citizens. The policy institutions of the Nordic welfare states have come a long way toward the dual earner/dual carer model (Ellingsæter and Leira 2006). That is why the Nordic countries serve as notable ‘exemplars’ in current debates of institutional reform for gender equality (for example Gornick and Meyers 2008). The only partial transformation of asymmetrical gender relations in families and labour markets is seen as a paradoxical – and problematic – outcome of the Nordic policy model (for example Mandel and Semyonov 2006). When policy institutions are close to the dual earner/dual carer model, why,...

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