Divergent female part-time employment in Britain and Denmark and the implications for gender equity

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2008


This paper examines women's employment in Britain and Denmark, societies characterised similarly by high proportions of female employees working part-time but by rather different gender arrangements. Part-time working is associated with female-carer workers; women who have reduced their hours in the labour market to bring up children and are able to do this because of the presence of an alternative source of income—usually a male breadwinner. Yet Denmark has been conceptualised as having more of 'dual-breadwinner' gender arrangement than Britain. It would seem then, that part-time working is distinctly different in these two societies. Examining this question, the paper concludes that extensive part-time working for women, and not men, does indeed tend to reinforce a traditional male-breadwinner model. However, the strength of this reinforcement varies, depending on the relative conditions of the part-time labour market. These conditions vary substantially cross-nationally and can also change rapidly within one society over time. As a result, the typical 'role' a part-time job plays for women can also vary cross-nationally and can change over time.

Published in

Sociological Review


Volume: 49 (4):548-567





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