Mainstreaming Gender in the European Union: Getting the Incentives Right

42 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2008 Last revised: 3 Nov 2015

See all articles by Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy

Mark A. Pollack

Temple University - Department of Political Science; Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: October 21, 2008

Abstract

The European Union, like many other international organizations and governments, committed itself during the 1990s to the "mainstreaming" of gender issues across all policy areas at all stages in the policy process. Nonetheless, more than a decade after the Union's initial commitment, this commitment has not led to consistent and effective implementation. The problem, we argue, lies in the failure to "get the incentives right," mobilizing sufficient interest among crucial actors, beginning within the bureaucracy of the international organizations or governments in question. Organizations like the European Commission are more successful in achieving their objectives when they provide "hard" incentives for bureaucrats to implement reforms. Cross-cutting mandates are less successful when they depend exclusively on "soft" incentives such as persuasion and socialization. This has been the case, we demonstrate, within the Commission, which has relied exclusively on soft incentives in its implementation of gender mainstreaming, with highly variable results after over a decade. By contrast, we demonstrate, the Commission has utilized hard incentives in the adoption of another cross-cutting mandate, on equal opportunities for men and women officials, resulting in rapid, quantifiable progress. The limited impact of gender mainstreaming on EU policy outputs, therefore, reflects not an inherent flaw of the mainstreaming concept, but rather the Commission's choice to rely almost exclusively on soft incentives in implementation.

Keywords: gender, mainstreaming, European Union, European Commission, equal opportunities, women

Suggested Citation

Hafner-Burton, Emilie Marie and Pollack, Mark A., Mainstreaming Gender in the European Union: Getting the Incentives Right (October 21, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1287859 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1287859

Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton (Contact Author)

UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

HOME PAGE: http://gps.ucsd.edu/ehafner/

Mark A. Pollack

Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )

461 Gladfelter Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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