ABSTRACT

More than a decade into the twenty-first century, the issue of gender equality remains important in the European Union. Without a clear analysis of gendered processes in paid and unpaid work, policy making, and structural change, we cannot fully grasp the performance of European labour markets over the last quarter-century, nor the impact of the economic crisis that is still with us, or the challenges that will face Europe in the coming decades. Gender gaps are still visible in almost all areas of economic life within the EU and even if some gaps are closing, for example in relation to employment rates, new gaps are emerging and others persist, for example in the job quality domain. Yet on the international scoreboard of gender equality, the European Union fares moderately well. Its Nordic members consistently feature among the top ten countries for gender equality in three of the latest worldwide indices of gender equality. And if we take the simple average of each index across EU member countries, the European Union performs roughly as well as the United States and better than Japan, though worse than Australia.1