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Gendered Tradeoffs: Family, Social Policy, and Economic Inequality in Twenty-One Countries Hardcover – December 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0871546616 ISBN-10: 0871546612

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Gender inequality in the workplace persists, even in nations with some of the most progressive laws and generous family support policies. Yet the dimensions on which inequality is measured--levels of women's employment, number of hours worked, sex segregation by occupations and wages--tell very different stories across industrialized nations. By examining federally guaranteed parental leave, publicly provided child care, and part-time work, and looking across multiple dimensions of inequality, Becky Pettit and Jennifer Hook document the links between specific policies and aggregate outcomes. They disentangle the complex factors, from institutional policies to personal choices, that influence economic inequality.

Gendered Tradeoffs draws on data from twenty-one industrialized nations to compare women's and men's economic outcomes across nations, and over time, in search of a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of gender inequality in different labor markets. Pettit and Hook develop the idea that there are tradeoffs between different aspects of gender inequality in the economy and explain how those tradeoffs are shaped by individuals, markets, and states. They argue that each policy or condition should be considered along two axes--whether it promotes women's inclusion in or exclusion from the labor market and whether it promotes gender equality or inequality among women in the labor market. Some policies advance one objective while undercutting the other.

The volume begins by reflecting on gender inequality in labor markets measured by different indicators. It goes on to develop the idea that there may be tradeoffs inherent among different aspects of inequality and in different policy solutions. These ideas are explored in four empirical chapters on employment, work hours, occupational sex segregation, and the gender wage gap. The penultimate chapter examines whether a similar framework is relevant for understanding inequality among women in the United States and Germany. The book concludes with a thorough discussion of the policies and conditions that underpin gender inequality in the workplace.

The central thesis of Gendered Tradeoffs is that gender inequality in the workplace is generated and reinforced by national policies and conditions. The contours of inequality across and within countries are shaped by specific aspects of social policy that either relieve or concentrate the demands of care giving within households--usually in the hands of women--and at the same time shape workplace expectations. Pettit and Hook make a strong case that equality for women in the workplace depends not on whether women are included in the labor market but on how they are included. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"In this book Becky Pettit and Jennifer L. Hook tackle head-on a central puzzle on the field of gender inequality: How is it that our assessment of the comparative levels of labor market gender inequality across countries can vary so dramatically depending on the measures we use? Coupling high-quality data from the Luxembourg Income Study with macro-level indicators of relevant economic and political conditions, Gendered Tradeoffs is a major step forward in our understanding of the institutional conditions that sustain or break down patterns of gender inequality in Europe and North America." -Mary C. Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

"Becky Pettit and Jennifer L. Hook have asked exactly the right questions, placing this book on the frontier of comparative research on women, work, and social policy.  After a generation of researchers assessed the advantageous effects of work-family policies, comparative scholars are now focused on understanding and untangling the possibility of unintended consequences - especially those that might worsen aspects of gender inequality in the labor market.  Pettit and Hook conclude that some institutions that enable high levels of women's employment may, at the same time, reduce the relative quality of that employment.  While some of the volume's conclusions are open to debate,Gendered Tradeoffs propels this crucial line of scholarship forward in leaps and bounds." -Janet Gornick, Director, Luxembourg Income Study, and Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center, CUNY

"Becky Pettit and Jennifer L. Hook's well-executed study is impressive in scope. They bring together disparate facets of gender inequality which are typically considered separately.  The result is an intriguing thesis about tradeoffs between inclusion and equality that deserves wide attention." -Jerry A. Jacobs, Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

"Gendered Tradeoffs is an important contribution to an emerging literature that finds paradoxical or unintended consequences of seemingly egalitarian public policies.  For instance, after years of lauding the 'Nordic nirvanas' for their menu of policies that promote high rates of mothers' employment - public child care, well-paid and lengthy parental leave, and reduced working hours - scholars now increasingly worry that generous parental leave and part-time work in particular contribute to employer discrimination against women, especially in the private sector, and occupational segregation. Petti and Hook take this discussion further by examining the trade-offs present across a wide array of countries and policy models . . . . Gendered Tradeoffs represents an important advance in our thinking about the multifaceted intersections of gender, class, and public policy." - Kimberly Morgan, Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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