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Gender Divisions and Working Time in the New Economy

Changing Patterns of Work, Care and Public Policy in Europe and North America

Edited by Diane Perrons, Colette Fagan, Linda McDowell, Kath Ray and Kevin Ward

Contemporary societies are characterised by new and more flexible working patterns, new family structures and widening social divisions. This book explores how these macro-level changes affect the micro organisation of daily life, with reference to working patterns and gender divisions in Northern and Western Europe and the United States.
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Chapter 14: Promoting Equality in the Private and Public Sectors

Teresa Rees


Teresa Rees INTRODUCTION In two very different working environments, growing attention is being paid to equality policies and more specifically, to the idea of ‘promoting equality’. Large, multinational, private sector global corporations, whose businesses include a major research and development (R&D) function, use the language of ‘managing diversity’. They are especially concerned about making the most of qualified women scientists. The European Commission has launched a major initiative to work with such companies in developing effective policies. At the same time, public sector bodies in Europe are increasingly being driven by a legislative framework that imposes a duty to ‘promote equality’ in employment and service delivery. The framework derives from the European Union’s Amsterdam Treaty that commits member states to equal treatment for all in employment and vocational training, on the grounds of gender, disability, race and ethnic origin, religious and political belief, sexual orientation and age. It also commits member state governments to a policy of mainstreaming gender equality. What common issues are faced by these very different sets of employers, one driven by the business case, the other more by social reform, to promote equality? What are the similarities and differences in approach? These are the questions addressed in this chapter. This chapter consists of two halves. The first half describes some initiatives being taken by a group of significant European and North American companies, facilitated by the Women and Science Unit in the European Commission’s Research Directorate-General, to address the projected shortfall in qualified science, engineering...

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