Special Issue "Work-Family Balance and Gender (In)equalities in Europe: Policies, Processes and Practices"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Isabella Crespi

Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism, University of Macerata, P.le Luigi Bertelli, 1, 62100 Macerata, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: family policies; gender equality; work-family balance; comparative studies; Europe

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last few decades, important societal developments changed the situation for family practices in term of work-family negotiation and balance. Increasing numbers of women in education and the work force, the new role of fathers as caregivers, as well as providers and the expansion of family-friendly policies and gender equality policies pointed towards more family-friendly and gender equal societies.

However, labor markets, as well as welfare states, are undergoing major transitions facing increasing global competition, insecurity and pressure for continuously increased productivity. These challenges have introduced great polarization among employees resulting from the fragmentation in employment arrangements and differential quality of jobs. Thus, conflicting demands and rationalities of work, family and welfare states might collide even in societies with extensive family-friendly policies. 

As modern working life and family life has become more individualized and flexible with less clear boundaries, debates about work- family dynamics have expanded. This Special Issue invites proposals that conceptualize and empirically investigate the consequences of work-family policies through which institutions may impact gender (in)equalities within the couples/families.

This Special Issue welcomes papers analysing current situation in a specific European country or comparison among EU countries in a cross-sectional or longitudinal perspective. In particular, papers using statistical and representative datasets and surveys, analyzing data in the light of work-family and gender policies changes and cultural representation, are especially welcome. Methodologically, promising approaches for exploring policy impact and processes include longitudinal data analyses, as well as insightful comparisons within and across countries.

Prof. Isabella Crespi
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Work-family balance
  • Gender (in)equalities
  • Family and gender policies
  • Comparative studies
  • European society

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Work–Life Balance Measures of Working Carers and Well-Being Satisfaction within Couple Relationships: The Result of an Italian Policy Looking through the Gender Lens
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(4), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8040109
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2019 / Accepted: 29 March 2019 / Published: 3 April 2019
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Abstract
Working carers deserve to receive more and more attention from welfare regimes and workplaces. Using the work–family interface approach, we analyzed the effects of the Family Audit workplace measures—an Italian work–life balance policy—on couple well-being. The research was carried out through a Computer-Assisted [...] Read more.
Working carers deserve to receive more and more attention from welfare regimes and workplaces. Using the work–family interface approach, we analyzed the effects of the Family Audit workplace measures—an Italian work–life balance policy—on couple well-being. The research was carried out through a Computer-Assisted Web Interviewing survey which was addressed to the employees of the organizations that participated in the policy program in 2015. The results showed that the measures implemented by the companies were able to improve the perception of couple well-being of working carers, but they did not trigger a cultural change that would permit the elimination of differences due to gender in work–family balance. The most effective measures were characterized by high levels of flexibility. These features allow the reduction of the negative effects produced by some socio-biographic variables, some work-related aspects, and aspects related to the Mediterranean welfare regime. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Work-Family Balance in the Active Age Ethnic Hungarian Population in Romania
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020059
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 16 February 2019
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Abstract
Value shifts and labour market transformations of the recent past have increased the importance of the work-family balance in the active population. Work overload also means an increased health risk. This study aims at identifying the main demographic, social and work-related determinants of [...] Read more.
Value shifts and labour market transformations of the recent past have increased the importance of the work-family balance in the active population. Work overload also means an increased health risk. This study aims at identifying the main demographic, social and work-related determinants of work-family balance in the ethnic Hungarian active age population of Mures County, Romania. Linear regression is performed to assess the controlled effects of variables. Single parents, parents with more children and shift workers are at increased risk of imbalance. Demographic agents account for more disparities in work-family balance than do work-related features. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Work and Family Life Reconciliation Policies in Turkey: Europeanisation or Ottomanisation?
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020036
Received: 28 November 2018 / Revised: 24 December 2018 / Accepted: 28 December 2018 / Published: 28 January 2019
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Abstract
This paper is an endeavour to explore and explain the Europeanisation patterns of gender equality in a longstanding candidate country, Turkey, with regard to the specific policy areas of work and family life reconciliation over the last two decades. To achieve this goal, [...] Read more.
This paper is an endeavour to explore and explain the Europeanisation patterns of gender equality in a longstanding candidate country, Turkey, with regard to the specific policy areas of work and family life reconciliation over the last two decades. To achieve this goal, this paper has utilised a combination of literature review, document analysis and 43 semi-structured in-depth interviews with European Union (EU) officials, representatives of social partners and international women’s organisations, as well as Turkish political elites and representatives of civil society organisations. The collected data have been analysed through the thematic analysis research method. Relying on an extensive review of the related literature and policy documents together with the data collected, this paper contends that the process of Europeanising Turkish work and family life reconciliation policies has remained contradictory, incomplete and patchy. Although the Turkish government has made various legislative changes in response to the adaptational pressure coming from the EU, a closer examination of those legislative amendments indicates a continued disconnect between Turkey and the EU in the specific policy area of work and family life reconciliation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Gender Equality in Europe and the Effect of Work-Family Balance Policies on Gender-Role Attitudes
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8010005
Received: 4 September 2018 / Revised: 26 November 2018 / Accepted: 24 December 2018 / Published: 30 December 2018
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Abstract
This study starts from the assumption that the context of opportunities for work-family balance affects individual attitudes toward gender roles, a main indicator of support for gender equality. Compared with extant research, the present study adopts a more articulated definition of “opportunity structure” [...] Read more.
This study starts from the assumption that the context of opportunities for work-family balance affects individual attitudes toward gender roles, a main indicator of support for gender equality. Compared with extant research, the present study adopts a more articulated definition of “opportunity structure” that includes national income level and social norms on gender attitudes, measures of gender-mainstreaming policies implemented at the company level (flextime), and different work-family balance policies in support of the dual-earner/dual-caregiver family model (e.g., parental-leave schemes and childcare provisions). The effects of these factors are estimated by performing a cross-sectional multilevel analysis for the year 2014. Gender-role attitudes and micro-level controls are taken from the Eurobarometer for all 28 European Union (EU) members, while macro-indicators stem from Eurostat, European Quality of Work Survey, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Our results show that both institutional and workplace arrangements supporting the dual-earner/dual-caregiver family model are associated with more egalitarian gender-role attitudes This is particularly true concerning availability of formal childcare for 0- to 3-year-olds among institutional factors, as well as work-schedule flexibility among workplace factors, probably as they enable a combination of care and paid work for both men and women. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Socio-Structural Perspective on Family Model Preferences, Gender Roles and Work–Family Attitudes in Spain
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8010004
Received: 11 September 2018 / Revised: 11 December 2018 / Accepted: 20 December 2018 / Published: 25 December 2018
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Abstract
Since the early 1990s, the diversity of work–family arrangement models has increased in Spain. It is difficult to understand this phenomenon without attending to the Spanish population’s preferences for such models. This article analyses the attitudes towards gender roles, and family model preferences [...] Read more.
Since the early 1990s, the diversity of work–family arrangement models has increased in Spain. It is difficult to understand this phenomenon without attending to the Spanish population’s preferences for such models. This article analyses the attitudes towards gender roles, and family model preferences within a normative and socio-structural framework. Using data from the International Social Survey Programme 2012, we developed descriptive and explanatory analyses. The findings reveal contradictions between attitudes towards the mother’s and father’s work intensity and gender roles that seem to be resolved through preferences for a “hybrid” or “adaptive” family model. We also identified the determinants of family model preferences for both men and women. The results show that gender plays a significant role in explaining preferences (women are less likely than men to prefer the male-breadwinner family model) and that socio-structural factors such as age, education level, immigrant condition, religious status and social class influence the preferences of men and women differently. Ultimately, these results contrast with Hakim’s Preference Theory, which emphasises individuals’ choices over socio-structural factors as determinants of family models, and align with Crompton’s and Pfau-Effinger’s theories. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Both Parents Working: Challenges and Strains in Managing the Reconciliation of Career and Family Life in Dual-Career Families. Empirical Evidence from Austria
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(12), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7120269
Received: 15 September 2018 / Revised: 3 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 December 2018 / Published: 17 December 2018
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Abstract
The presented empirical data analysis aims to shed light on the persistence of gender inequalities in sharing parenting responsibilities and addresses possible improvements for realising gender equality. In recent decades, family policies in the European Union have targeted the increase of men’s shares [...] Read more.
The presented empirical data analysis aims to shed light on the persistence of gender inequalities in sharing parenting responsibilities and addresses possible improvements for realising gender equality. In recent decades, family policies in the European Union have targeted the increase of men’s shares in parental leave (=paternal leave) as well as women’s participation in the labour market. Following the results of the Lisbon Treaty in 2000, many EU member states including Austria introduced non-transferable fathers’ quotas in their regulations on parental leave. Subsequently, the share of men on parental leave increased. Nevertheless, both in number and duration, men’s childcare allowance claims have remained lower than women’s claims. This paper investigates shared parental leave practices based on 36 interviews with fathers on paternal leave, and 14 follow-up interviews with parents after paternal leave. The qualitative data reveal the challenges that arise when both parents are faced with reconciling work and family during and after parental leave. Although the data showed that progress has been made in reducing gender inequality, the interviews make clear that employers’ attitudes perpetuate traditional gendered expectations of parental leave claims and still focus on images of a male breadwinner. Also, the distribution of gainful and family work reveals gender inequalities. The paper therefore discusses challenges that arise in the realisation of current gender and family policies in order to provide a basis for making changes that further enhance the opportunities for dual-career couples within the organisation of parental leave laws. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Women in the German Workplace: What Facilitates or Constrains Their Claims-Making for Career Advancement?
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(11), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7110214
Received: 25 August 2018 / Revised: 23 October 2018 / Accepted: 26 October 2018 / Published: 30 October 2018
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Abstract
To contribute to the understanding of gender inequalities within the workplace, this article explored gender differences in claims-making for career advancement and how they depend on workplace contexts based on unique German linked employer–employee data. Applying organizational fixed-effects models, we found that women [...] Read more.
To contribute to the understanding of gender inequalities within the workplace, this article explored gender differences in claims-making for career advancement and how they depend on workplace contexts based on unique German linked employer–employee data. Applying organizational fixed-effects models, we found that women were less likely than men to make claims, especially when they had children, and that this was related to their working fewer hours. The gender gap in claims-making further depended on workplace characteristics that influenced women’s ability and their feeling of deservingness to work in more demanding positions. Although claims by mothers’ increased in work–life supportive workplaces, highly demanding workplace cultures seemed to hinder women’s attempts to negotiate for career advancement. Thus, the dominance of the ideal worker norm was a relevant driver for the gender gap in claims-making. Whereas this gap in making claims was found to be only partially related to the workplace gender structure, the formalization of human resource practices, such as performance-based evaluations in the workplace, fostered mothers’ claims-making, indicating that these evaluations were used to legitimize their claims in the workplace. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
How to Divide Paid Work and Unpaid Care between Parents? Comparison of Attitudes in 22 Western Countries
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(10), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7100188
Received: 14 August 2018 / Revised: 1 October 2018 / Accepted: 3 October 2018 / Published: 7 October 2018
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Abstract
Sharing responsibilities for paid work and unpaid care between men and women is recognised as one of the challenges that Western countries face in the 21st century. This article examines attitudes towards sharing paid work and unpaid care responsibilities in 22 Western countries [...] Read more.
Sharing responsibilities for paid work and unpaid care between men and women is recognised as one of the challenges that Western countries face in the 21st century. This article examines attitudes towards sharing paid work and unpaid care responsibilities in 22 Western countries by addressing the following questions. (1) How do attitudes towards different earner-carer models vary across countries? (2) Which socio-demographic and country-level factors explain differences in attitudes to an equal division of paid work and unpaid care responsibilities? International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) data 2012 is used as the data source and research methods include logistic multi-level regression analysis. Results reveal that cross-national variations in attitudes are significant: Most traditional attitudes are found in many Eastern European countries, whereas Nordic countries are the least traditional. At the individual level, those who are highly educated, in paid work, single, childless, and religiously non-active support the equal division of paid work and unpaid care responsibilities more often than other respondents. At the country level, longer father-specific parental leave, a stronger tradition of women’s paid work, and less traditional gender roles are related to stronger support for an equal division of paid work and unpaid care. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Balancing Work and Life When Self-Employed: The Role of Business Characteristics, Time Demands, and Gender Contexts
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(8), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7080139
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 9 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (341 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study explores individual and contextual risk factors in relation to work interfering with private life (WIL) and private life interfering with work (LIW) among self-employed men and women across European countries. It also studies the relationship between interference (LIW and WIL) and [...] Read more.
This study explores individual and contextual risk factors in relation to work interfering with private life (WIL) and private life interfering with work (LIW) among self-employed men and women across European countries. It also studies the relationship between interference (LIW and WIL) and well-being among self-employed men and women. Drawing on data from the fifth round of the European Working Conditions Survey, a sample of self-employed men and women with active businesses was extracted. After applying multilevel regressions, results show that although business characteristics are important, the most evident risk factor for WIL and LIW is time demands. Both time demands and business characteristics also seem to be important factors in relation to gender differences in level of interference. There is a relationship between well-being and both WIL and LIW, and time demands is again an important factor. Gender equality in the labor market did not relate to level of interference, nor did it affect the relationship between interference and well-being. However, in gender-separated analyses, LIW and LIW interacted with gender equality in the labor market in different ways for women’s and men’s well-being. In conclusion, gender relations are important in interference and how interference relates to well-being. Full article
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