Work-Family Conflict and the Pipeline to Power: Lessons from European Gender Quotas
20 Pages Posted: 1 May 2013 Last revised: 3 Jun 2013
Date Written: April 30, 2013
In several European countries, gender quotas have been adopted to bring gender balance to legislative assemblies and corporate boards. Why is the increased representation of women in positions of power an important part of anyone’s idea of gender justice? This contribution to the Symposium on "Gender and the Legal Profession's Pipeline to Power" draws on recent debates surrounding gender quotas in Europe to engage this question. Although there is no necessary connection between adopting gender quotas and ending the disadvantages associated work-family conflict, this Essay provides an account of why gender balance in the seats of social, economic, and political power is a necessary (though not sufficient) step. Gender parity can nudge the completion of the revolution in social reproduction that began when women were granted formal equality and permitted to depart from the traditional sexual division of labor. This revolution is in an awkward unfinished state, whereby women and men have both entered the public sphere of politics and economic activity, with no collective solution for the caregiving gaps left behind by this major social transformation. This Essay explains how achieving gender balance in democratic institutions can catalyze some collective responses to this gap.
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