Gender equality

This page contains literature references and abstracts on the topic of gender equality and gender inequality. Of every book, article and report the abstract is given. If a book, article or report publicly accessible on the internet I have provided a link to where it can be found. If there is no link it means that there is a paywall. Where there is a paywall I recommend to look up the article on, often the author can be approached there and one can request the full-text via a private message.

The literature references and abstracts below are gathered – a bit arbitrarily admittedly – in four groups: literature on what gender is; literature on gender inequality; literature on gender equality and, literature on intersectionality.



I find most official definitions of gender equality rather limited. Therefore, I like to use two complementary definitions of gender equality. This is the best way to get a holistic definition.

According to Htun and Weldon “Gender equality is an ideal condition in which men and women have similar opportunities to participate in politics, the economy and social activities; their roles and status are equally valued; neither suffers from gender-based disadvantage or discrimination; and both are considered free autonomous beings with dignity and rights” (Htun, M., & Weldon, S. L. (2010). When Do Governments Promote Women’s Rights? A Framework for the Comparative Analysis of Sex Equality Policy. Perspectives on Politics, 8(1), 207-216.2010: p. 213).

UN Women has much more elaborate, and descriptive, definition: “Equality between women and men (gender equality) refer to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of men and women. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development” (UN Women. (2012). Concepts and Definitions.

I chose to use these two definitions in my research because they are combining academic and policy-based concerns with gender equality thus allowing for a broader perspective. For example, while the UN Women definition is more detailed, it does not mention discriminations, which Htun and Weldon do. As the opposite of gender equality – gender inequality – leads to discrimination, including violence, I deemed it important for my research. Equally important, practitioners addressing gender (in)equality often rely on the UN Women’s concepts because they are practice oriented. Also, the UN Women’s concepts offer the convenience of operationalization of social, economic and political indicators. As those indicators were part of my research, it made methodological sense to include the UN Women definition.


Early scholars focused on essentialist explanations for gender roles and gender norms leading to gender inequalities. Essentialist explanations go from the assumption that there are some innate qualities in manhood and womanhood that dictate that men and women should have very different roles and that these roles are not equal in importance. The essentialist perspective was easily rebuked though: there were too much evidence of different cultures doing things differently. Even in our own culture our ancestors have done things very differently from us in the past.

Today we know that men can be just as caring and nurturing parents as women – it’s just less common globally. We know that women can kill both in combat and in cold blood just like men – it’s just less common. In some cultures, women work the fields and men care for the livestock, in others it’s the reverse. Being a medical doctor was a female profession in the USSR, in the West it was a male profession until rather recently. Computer programmers are mainly male today while in the early days it was a profession dominated by women. There is a never-ending list of such examples.

This has led to today’s predominant constructivist theory on gender – stating that gender roles are socio-cultural constructs. That means that they are not biological or “natural”—after all, they vary in time and place.  Women and men are expected to behave and act in very different ways in different cultures, and in very different ways today from a hundred years ago. Our cultures dictate our gender norms.

We also know that intersecting identities can make discrimination and oppression worse. For instance, a Black woman in the US or in Europe will face more problems than a White woman. A disabled woman faces more problem than a woman who is not. Straight and cis-gendered people generally have easier lives than LGBTQI people and so on. That is why it is important to look at intersectionality when analysing oppression and discrimination in order to understand the whole picture.

The literature references below are gathered in four groups:

·       What is gender?

·       Literature on gender inequality

·       Literature on gender equality

·       Literature on intersectionality

Gender equality: Literature references

What is gender?

Delusions of gender. The real science behind sex differences. Fine, C. (2010). London: Icon Books.

Are men from Mars and women really from Venus? Gender inequalities are defended by those citing hard-wired differences between the male and female brain. That’s why, we’re told, there are so few women in science, so few men in the laundry room – different brains are just suited to different things. Not so, argues cognitive neuroscientist Cordelia Fine. Whether you’ve found yourself frustrated by the gender straitjacket that still constrains us, or failed to notice it, Fine’s sparkling yet vehement attack on ‘neurosexism’ will be essential reading.

Testosterone Rex. Myths of sex, science, and society. Fine, C. (2017). New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company.

Many people believe that, at its core, biological sex is a fundamental, diverging force in human development. According to this overly familiar story, differences between the sexes are shaped by past evolutionary pressures – women are more cautious and parenting-focused, while men seek status to attract more mates. In each succeeding generation, sex hormones and male and female brains are thought to continue to reinforce these unbreachable distinctions, making for entrenched inequalities in modern society.

In Testosterone Rex, psychologist Cordelia Fine wittily explains why past and present sex roles are only serving suggestions for the future, revealing a much more dynamic situation through an entertaining and well-documented exploration of the latest research that draws on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and philosophy. She uses stories from daily life, scientific research, and common sense to break through the din of cultural assumptions. Testosterone for instance, is not the potent hormonal essence of masculinity; the presumed, built-in preferences of each sex, from toys to financial risk taking, are turned on their heads.

Moving beyond the old “nature versus nurture” debates, Testosterone Rex disproves ingrained myths and calls for a more equal society based on both sexes’ full, human potential.

The fate of gender. Nature, nurture, and the human future. Browning, F. (2016). New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury.

The last years have seen stunning attention paid to high-profile “gender stories”. Marriage is now open to two people of any gender identity or sexuality. Unisex restrooms are gaining ground. More transgender people are coming out and gaining visibility.

But the real gender story of our era is much more profound. It involves nearly every family and town in America. In the last decades, we have looked critically at what it means to be a man, to be a woman (and, for a growing slice of humanity, to refuse to be either) – from playground to kitchen to laboratory to bedroom. Geneticists and brain scientists are showing us that no matter what XX and XY chromosomes may suggest to the outer world, masculinity and femininity, and sexual attraction, are far more complex biologically than anyone had previously allowed – colourful spectrum across which our positions can change over a lifetime, as our hormones and neurology fluctuate in response to where we live, how we live, and the joys and stresses of experience.

The fate of gender takes us into human gender geographies around the world, from gender-neutral kindergartens in Chicago and Oslo to women’s masturbation classes in Shanghai, from fundamentalist Catholics in Paris to transsexual Mormon parents in Utah. Provocative and rich in human stories, it offers readers new ways to understand human identities, new ways to interpret our recent history, and a new ability to imagine the possibilities for our society.

Living dolls. The return of sexism. Walter, N. (2010). London: Virago.

Empowerment, liberation, choice. Once the watchwords of feminism, these terms have now been co-opted by a society that sells women an airbrushed, highly sexualised and increasingly narrow vision of femininity. While the opportunities available to women may have expanded, the ambitions of many young girls are in reality limited by a culture that sees women’s sexual allure as their only passport to success. At the same time, we are encouraged to believe that the inequality we observe all around us is born of innate biological differences rather than social factors. Drawing on a wealth of research and personal interviews, Natasha Walter, author of the The new feminism and one of Britain’s most incisive cultural commentators, gives us a straight-talking, passionate and important book that makes us look afresh at women and girls, at sexism and femininity, today.

Misogyny. The world’s oldest prejudice. Holland, J. (2006). London: Robinson.

In this powerful book, Jack Holland sets out to answer a daunting question: how do you explain the oppression and brutalization of half the world’s population by the other half, throughout history?

The book takes the reader on an eye-opening journey through centuries, continents and civilizations as it looks at both historical and contemporary attitudes to women. Holland’s spotlight falls impartially on the Church, witch-hunts, sexual theory, Nazism and pro-life campaigners and on today’s developing world, where women are increasingly and disproportionally at risk because of radicalized religious belief, famine, war and disease. Well-informed and researched, highly readable and often entertaining, this is a straightforward investigation into an ancient, pervasive and enduring injustice. It deals with the fundamentals of human existence – sex, love, violence – that have always shaped our lives. Holland reaches the conclusion that it is more than time to recognize that the treatment of women amounts to an abuse of human rights on an unthinkable scale.

Literature on gender inequality

Gender Discrimination Among Students: Are Females More Subject to Social Manipulation than Males? A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis Among Students from Dutch Universities. Sara Brzeski, Tessa Heijligers, Zainab Karimjee, Paqui van der Mull, Alexandra Ruette, Elaha Sayad, Yvonne Schittenhelm, Vivien Zielonka. Supervised by Dr. Åsa Ekvall (2021). Final Report for the Outreaching Honors Program, Tilburg University. Gender discrimination among students 

In the Nordic countries the concept of Master Suppression Techniques (härskartekniker) is know and used since decades. It shows the structural use of techniques that are used to silence and belittle women at the workplace and in politics. These techniques involve ignoring the woman talking, interrupting her, laughing at and ridiculing what she says, commenting on her exterior instead of what she says and more. While quite a few studies have been done on how this affects women in the workplace and in politics and what can be done about it, no study had looked at how it begins. Is this something that starts already at university? If yes, are there certain Master Suppression Techniques that starts before the others? This paper finds that some of these techniques indeed do start at university.

Are women human? And other international dialogues. MacKinnon, C. A. (2006). Cambridge MA, Belknap, Harvard University Press.

More than half a century after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defined what a human being is and is entitled to, Catharine MacKinnon asks: Are women human yet? If women were regarded as human, would they be sold into sexual slavery worldwide; veiled, silenced, and imprisoned in homes; bred, and worked as menials for little or no pay; stoned for sex outside marriage or burned within it; mutilated genitally, impoverished economically, and mired in illiteracy–all as a matter of course and without effective recourse?

The cutting edge is where law and culture hurts, which is where MacKinnon operates in these essays on the transnational status and treatment of women. Taking her gendered critique of the state to the international plane, ranging widely intellectually and concretely, she exposes the consequences and significance of the systematic maltreatment of women and its systemic condonation. And she points toward fresh ways–social, legal, and political–of targeting its toxic orthodoxies.

MacKinnon takes us inside the workings of nation-states, where the oppression of women defines community life and distributes power in society and government. She takes us to Bosnia-Herzegovina for a harrowing look at how the wholesale rape and murder of women and girls there was an act of genocide, not a side effect of war. She takes us into the heart of the international law of conflict to ask–and reveal–why the international community can rally against terrorists’ violence, but not against violence against women. A critique of the transnational status quo that also envisions the transforming possibilities of human rights, this bracing book makes us look as never before at an ongoing war too long undeclared.

Sex and violence: social reactions to economic restructuring In Kuwait. Tetreault, M. A. (1999). International Feminist Journal of Politics, 1(2), 237-255.

Economic restructuring in response to globalization affects virtually every area of the world, including countries that appear to have many economic advantages. Kuwait is a wealthy country, but its relatively favoured position does not insulate it from struggles to limit the effects of redistribution on particular individuals and social groups. Women in Kuwait are feeling the pressures of restructuring. Educated and employed as the result of modernizing policies instituted during the era of rising national oil income, Kuwaiti women find themselves today, during a period of slumping oil prices, the target of those who want to take whatever desirable places they occupy in the local political economy. At the same time, restructuring conflicts have raised the level of political violence in Kuwait. These two phenomena are less likely to be directly related than caused by the same exogenous pressures. Their joint appearance in Kuwait echoes similar manifestations in other countries which have resulted in social movements against women’s rights and, in extreme cases, civil wars which use violence against women as a preferred form of political discourse.

International human rights regime, neoliberalism, and women’s social rights, 1984-2004. Yoo, E. (2011). International Journal of Comparative Sociology 52(6): 503-528.

World polity scholars posit that the diffusion of world culture and norms increasingly influences human rights as well as women’s rights. However, previous research on women’s rights and policies often neglects women’s social rights and focuses mainly on women’s political rights. In part due to neoliberal restructuring, women’s social rights still lag behind women’s political rights. This research focuses on changes in women’s social rights, as measured by the CIRI human rights index, in 140 countries from 1984 to 2004. To interpret these data, I incorporate world institutionalism and neoliberalism into one single theoretical frame. My analysis reveals that the longer a country is exposed to a neoliberal structural adjustment program, the more governments’ practices regarding women’s social rights deteriorate. Among various linkages to the world polity, only the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) increases nation-states’ likelihood of having improved women’s social rights. These findings suggest that global neoliberal restructuring has a deleterious effect on women’s social rights and challenge the claim that the spread of global culture necessarily leads to improvements in governments’ practices relating to women’s social rights.

Does the quality of democracy matter for women’s rights? Just debate and democratic transition in Chile and South Africa. Walsh, D. M. (2012). Comparative Political Studies 45(11): 1323-1350.

Gender scholars have found that democratization is rarely associated with advances in women’s rights and offer a range of reasons why. This article offers a new explanation that targets the quality of democracy in the leading institutions in the public sphere. The author argues that open and inclusive debate conditions, or women’s access, voice, and capacity for contestation in the legislature, civil society, and the media, enable them to shape debate content and pressure the state to respond with legislative reform. The author tests this claim through a structured, focused comparison of Chile and South Africa during the period prior to the transition to democracy, when the public sphere expanded and debate conditions were dynamic. The author finds that different levels of openness and inclusiveness coincide with different outcomes in women’s rights. This suggests that the quality of democracy in the public sphere shapes women’s rights and that it may shape the outcomes of rights for other marginalized groups and in long-standing democracies as well.

The impact of religiosity on gender attitudes and outcomes. Seguino, S. and J. Lovinsky (2009). United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

This paper investigates the impact of religiosity and religious denomination on attitudes towards gender equality using data from the World Values Survey. The impact of religiosity on several measures of gender equality in well-being is also evaluated. Religiosity is strongly correlated with gender inequitable attitudes, controlling for a variety of demographic characteristics. In addition, men are found to hold significantly more gender inequitable attitudes than women. The empirical results further indicate that the greater the degree of religiosity in a country, the more gender inequitable well-being outcomes, even after controlling for level of GDP. The effect of religiosity is likely transmitted via a “stealth” effect on everyday behaviour in a variety of transactions and interactions, such as in labour markets, in household decision resource allocation, and through impacts on government spending and resource allocation.

Help or hindrance? Religion’s impact on gender inequality in attitudes and outcomes. Seguino, S. (2011). World Development 39(8): 1308-1321.

This paper investigates the effect of religiosity on attitudes toward gender equality using World Values Survey data. Results indicate that religiosity is strongly correlated with gender inequitable attitudes across countries. Further, OLS, TSLS, and 3SLS regression estimates reveal that gender inequitable attitudes are associated with negative effects on seven measures of gender equality of well-being and public policy. No single religion stands out as more gender inequitable than others. The impact of religiosity is likely transmitted via “stealth” effects on everyday behaviour in economic transactions in labour markets, household resource allocation, and government spending. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Is multiculturalism bad for women? Moller Okin, S. (1999). Edited by J. Cohen, M. Howard, and M. C. Nussbaum. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.

Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Do demands for multiculturalism–and certain minority group rights in particular–make them more likely to continue and to spread to liberal democracies? Are there fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equity and our increasing desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions? In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and fifteen of the world’s leading thinkers about feminism and multiculturalism explore these unsettling questions in a provocative, passionate, and illuminating debate.

Okin opens by arguing that some group rights can, in fact, endanger women. She points, for example, to the French government’s giving thousands of male immigrants’ special permission to bring multiple wives into the country, despite French laws against polygamy and the wives’ own bitter opposition to the practice. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened.

In reply, some respondents reject Okin’s position outright, contending that her views are rooted in a moral universalism that is blind to cultural difference. Others quarrel with Okin’s focus on gender, or argue that we should be careful about which group rights we permit, but not reject the category of group rights altogether. Okin concludes with a rebuttal, clarifying, adjusting, and extending her original position. These incisive and accessible essays–expanded from their original publication in Boston Review and including four new contributions–are indispensable reading for anyone interested in one of the most contentious social and political issues today.

The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are Azizah al-Hibri, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Homi Bhabha, Sander Gilman, Janet Halley, Bonnie Honig, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Bhikhu Parekh, Katha Pollitt, Robert Post, Joseph Raz, Saskia Sassen, Cass Sunstein, and Yael Tamir.

Multiple marginality: How the disproportionate assignment of women and minorities to manage diversity programs reinforces and multiplies their marginality. Harris, G. L. A. (2013). Administration & Society 45(7): 775-808.

Achieving diversity in the workplace has become the antidote for what ails many organizations. Specifically, for public organizations, although many genuinely pursue diversity to achieve public good, some use diversity for more questionable means. An exploratory study on local governments revealed that women and minorities, relative to White men, are disproportionately assigned to manage diversity programs. Using the research on groups, a theory of multiple marginality was developed to explicate the rationale(s) for these programs – overrepresentation of women and minorities that further marginalizes these already marginalized groups. The adverse effects, the policy implications, and future research are discussed.

Gender inequality, income, and growth: Are good times good for women? Dollar, D. and R. Gatti (1999). Policy Research Report on Gender and Development Washington, DC, The World Bank Development Research Group/Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network. Working Paper Series, No. 1.

Gender differentials in education and health are not an efficient economic choice. Societies that underinvest in women pay a price for it in terms of slower growth and lower income. Furthermore, gender inequality can be explained to a significant extent by religious preference, regional factors, and civil freedom. The relative status of women is poor in the developing world, compared to developed countries. Increases in per capita income lead to improvements in different measures of gender equality, suggesting that there may be market failures hindering investment in girls in developing countries, and that these are typically overcome as development proceeds. Gender inequality in education and health can also be explained to a considerable extent by religious preference, regional factors, and civil freedom. These systematic patterns in gender differentials suggest that low investment in women is not an efficient economic choice, and we can show that gender inequality in education is bad for economic growth. Thus, societies that have a preference for not investing in girls pay a price for it in terms of slower growth and reduced income.

Masculine and feminine honor codes. Mosquera, P. M. R. (2011). Revista De Psicologia Social 26(1): 63-72.

We present a study on the importance of masculine and feminine honour and attitudes towards sex roles in Spain and the Netherlands. Honour is more important in Spanish than in Dutch culture. Participants were asked to rate the extent to which gender-neutral (e.g., caring for reputation) and gendered (e.g., assertiveness, modesty) honour attributes were desirable in their culture for each sex. We also measured attitudes towards sex-roles in different domains (e.g., work, marriage). The Spanish participants rated gender-neutral honour attributes as more desirable than the Dutch participants did. Both Spanish and Dutch participants rated masculine honour attributes as more desirable for men, and, feminine honour attributes as more desirable for women. Participant’s sex emerged as the most important predictor of attitudes towards sex roles, with males expressing more traditional attitudes than females. Taken together, the results indicate that masculine and feminine honour are expressions of pan-cultural ideals of masculinity and femininity.

Problematizing multiculturalism: Respect, tolerance and the limits to tolerance. Knocke, W. (1997). NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 5(2): 127-136.

The complexities of multiculturalism are discussed and it is argued that multiculturalism has to be critically defined and scrutinized in terms of respect, tolerance and the limits to tolerance. While avoiding the pitfalls of “Eurocentrism”, it is nonetheless important to recognize that there exist culturally or religiously defined beliefs, customs and practices that run counter to the basic values of society, to gender equality, and which violate women’s human rights. The discussion focuses on possible conflict areas pertaining to marriage and family life, tradition-based unequal authority systems between women and men and violence against women. The aim is to identify areas where conflicts may arise between, on the one hand, respect for women’s human rights and, on the other, respect for the cultural identity of immigrant groups. The paper also suggests ways of addressing and handling this type of conflict.

The double bind: Women, honour and sexuality in contemporary Ireland. Inglis, T. and C. MacKeogh (2012). Media Culture & Society 34(1): 68-82.

Irish women are caught in contradictory sexual discourses which create a cultural double bind. The legacy of Catholic Church teaching, in which the sexual honour of women revolves around their innocence and subservience, still lingers. This is gradually being replaced by media messages and images which portray women as sexually equal and independent. However, the media also portray sexually independent women as a threat to sexual moral order. The double bind reproduces double standards. The cultural contradictions in the way women are portrayed are revealed in an analysis of the reporting of events surrounding a court case involving the sexual assault of a woman. This analysis is put within the context of media reporting of other cases of sexually transgressive women.

Free time and emotional well-being: Do dual-earner mothers and fathers differ? Offer, S. (2015). Gender & Society 30(2): 213-239.

Previous research suggests that there are important gender disparities in the experience of leisure, but the issue of how mothers and fathers experience free time emotionally remains overlooked. The present study addressed this lacuna using the Experience Sampling Method and survey data from the 500 Family Study. Results showed that mothers and fathers spent the same amount of time on leisure activities. However, mothers had slightly less pure free time than fathers and were more likely to combine leisure with unpaid work or spend time in leisure with children. Multilevel analyses showed that pure free time was associated with increased positive affect and engagement and decreased negative affect and stress, as was the combination of free time with unpaid work and personal care. These trends did not differ by gender. Adult leisure and free time with children were also beneficial to parents’ well-being. However, the relationship between free time with children and positive affect was stronger among fathers, whereas the association between adult leisure and engagement was stronger among mothers. These results suggest that mothers may feel more anxious about being criticized by others when engaging in leisure with their children, whereas spending time with adults alone may free them from the pressures of “good mothering”.

Happiness, housework and gender inequality in Europe. Mencarini, L. and M. Sironi (2010). European Sociological Review 28(2): 203-219.

Although the last few decades have seen a progressive increase of gender equality in almost all dimensions of society, roles concerning childcare and domestic work remain highly gender-specific. Gender division of labour within the family varies considerably within and across countries. Gender systems are likely to have an important impact on individuals’ well-being. Improved gender equality has enhanced the general well-being of women, although its extent may depend on the context in which women live and operate. This work considers the effect of the unequal division of labour within the household, between women and their partners, on women’s own subjective assessment of happiness. We conducted the analysis using the European Social Survey data. We included 26 European countries and explored, exploiting a multi-level model to investigate the determinants of, women’s differing levels of happiness across countries. In particular, we examined the extent to which gender equality at the country level can explain variation in happiness at the individual level.

Women and economic statecraft: The negative impact international economic sanctions visit on women. Drury, A. C. and D. Peksen (2012). European Journal of International Relations 20(2): 463-490.

Though it is widely accepted that advancing women’s rights is crucial to promoting more economic prosperity, good governance, and social equality, very few studies have analysed the gender-specific effects of foreign policy tools. In this study, we focus on the impact that a frequently used coercive tool – international economic sanctions – has on women’s well-being. Sanctions can have a devastating impact on both the target country’s economic and political stability, and women often suffer significantly from the effects of such external shocks due to their vulnerable socioeconomic and political status. We thus argue that foreign economic pressures will reduce the level of respect for women’s rights in the targeted countries. We use four different measures of women’s economic, political, and social status to analyse the gender-specific consequences of economic coercion. Results from the analysis for the period 1971-2005 indicate that sanctions are likely to exacerbate women’s rights. The data analysis also shows that the suggested negative impact of economic coercion on women’s well-being is conditioned by the wealth of a targeted country; women in poor countries are hit the hardest by economic sanctions.

Globalisation and gender inequality: Is Africa different? Baliamoune-Lutz, M. (2007). Journal of African Economies 16(2): 301-348.

Using cross-sectional data (5-year averages), ordinary least-squares and three-stage least squares estimations, this paper examines the effects of globalisation and growth on gender inequality (inequality in literacy) and tries to investigate whether the effects are homogenous across developing countries. In particular, we explore whether the effects of increased trade openness and growth on gender inequality in Africa are different from those in other developing countries. The empirical evidence indicates that globalisation and growth seem to have no effect on gender equality in non-SSA developing countries. However, we find overwhelming statistical evidence that higher integration in world markets and growth cause gender inequality in SSA to increase. The findings in this article suggest that it is extremely important that socioeconomic policies that promote the welfare of women (and, in particular, enhance female literacy) accompany trade reforms and growth-promoting policies.

‘Fairer sex’ or purity myth? Corruption, gender, and institutional context. Esarey, J. and G. Chirillo (2013). Politics and Gender 9(4): 390-413.

Recent research finds that states with more women involved in government are also less prone to corruption. But a review of experimental evidence indicates that women are not necessarily more intrinsically honest or averse to corruption than men in the laboratory or in the field. Rather, the attitudes and behaviours of women concerning corruption depend on institutional and cultural contexts in these experimental situations. If women’s inclination toward corruption is contextual, then what are the contexts in which we would expect female involvement in government to fight corruption? The answer is important to understand where gender equality initiatives present a cost-effective and politically feasible approach to cleaning up government. We believe that democratic institutions activate the relationship between gender and corruption. These institutions make corruption a risky proposition by shrinking the potential profit, increasing the probability of discovery, and morally stigmatizing the perpetrators. The risks are smaller in autocratic states where bribery and favouritism are often a normal part of doing business; indeed, not being corrupt may be riskier than corruption in this context. Our key argument is that women are differentially impacted by these risks and thus feel greater pressure to conform to existing political norms about corruption.

Is the knowledge society gendered? Walby, S. (2011). Gender, Work and Organization 18(1): 1-29.

The article comprehensively reviews the theoretical and empirical work on gender and the knowledge society and introduces the articles of the special issue. Three ways in which the knowledge society and economy are gendered are distinguished: the gendering of human capital; the gendering of networks and the gendering of the definitions of the knowledge society. Using data from the Labour Force Survey, an original analysis of the gendering of the UK knowledge economy is presented. It finds that the choice of definition of the knowledge economy makes a difference to its gender composition: the more centred on technology and fixed capital, the more masculine, the more centred on human capital, the more gender balanced. The knowledge economy provides better work and conditions. Gender gaps are narrower in the knowledge economy than the overall economy: occupational hierarchies are narrowed to women’s advantage, while differences in work temporalities are narrowed to men’s advantage.

Literature on gender equality

Sex and the statehouse: The effects of gender on legislative roll-call voting. Hogan, R. E. (2008). Social Science Quarterly 89(4): 955-968.

This analysis examines whether differences exist between women and men state legislators in their roll-call voting behaviour involving matters of economic and regulatory policy. Methods. Using interest group rating scores, I examine the voting behaviour of representatives in the lower houses of 28 states in legislative sessions from 1995 to 2000. By controlling for a host of variables related to legislators (political party, years of service, etc.) and their districts (average income, level of education, urbanization, etc.), I am able to isolate the independent effect of gender on roll-call voting. Results. The findings demonstrate that among Democratic legislators, women are less conservative than men, but among Republican lawmakers, women are slightly more conservative than men. Additional analyses show that many factors that influence legislative voting by women and men are similar; however, political party has a more prominent effect among women. Conclusion. Although factors such as political party and some constituency characteristics exert a much stronger influence than gender, women and men legislators differ in their roll-call voting even when controls for a wide assortment of individual- and district-level conditions are taken into account.

Mind the gap: Do proportional electoral systems foster a more equal representation of women and men, poor and rich? Bernauer, J., N. Giger, et al. (2013). International Political Science Review 36(1): 78-98.

Female gender and low income are two markers for groups that have been historically disadvantaged within most societies. The study explores two research questions related to their political representation: (1) Are parties biased towards the ideological preferences of male and rich citizens?; and (2) Does the proportionality of the electoral system moderate the degree of under-representation of women and poor citizens in the party system? A multilevel analysis of survey data from 24 parliamentary democracies indicates that there is some bias against those with low income and, at a much smaller rate, women. This has systemic consequences for the quality of representation, as the preferences of the complementary groups differ. The proportionality of the electoral system influences the degree of under-representation: specifically, larger district magnitudes help in closing the considerable gap between rich and poor.

The relationship between gender equality and democracy: A comparison of Arab versus non-Arab Muslim societies. Rizzo, H., A.-H. Abdel-Latif, et al. (2007). Sociology-the Journal of the British Sociological Association 41(6): 1151-1170.

Inglehart and Norris argue that the core clash between the Islamic world and the West is over issues concerning gender equality rather than democracy. However, a comparison between Arab and non-Arab Muslim societies is essential before drawing this conclusion. Here, we compared nations from each society and found significant differences in attitudes toward gender equality, democratic governance and religious identities. We analysed models predicting support for democracy including views toward gender equality in each set of countries. In non-Arab Muslim countries, there were higher levels of support for women’s rights, and those who supported gender equality were significantly more likely to support democracy. The reverse was true in the Arab Muslim countries. We argue that for a complete and unbiased form of democracy to emerge in the Arab Middle East, a rule of law that would protect gender equality, minority rights and citizen inclusion would need to be instituted.

Women’s status and economic globalization. Richards, D. L. and R. Gelleny (2007). International Studies Quarterly 51(4): 855-876.

This article examines the relationship between women’s status and economic globalization. The expectations of both proponents and skeptics of globalization are discussed with regard to women’s status, and a series of statistical examinations of this relationship are performed using data on 130 countries from 1982 to 2003. To control for the potential sensitivity of findings to the use of particular indicators of women’s status, we use five indicators of women’s status from two different data sources to represent the economic, political, and social spheres of women’s status. As well, four indicators of economic globalization are used. We find that the relationship between economic globalization and women’s status varies by type and era and, in the majority of instances, economic globalization is associated with improved women’s status.

Rethinking the life cycles of international norms: The United Nations and the global promotion of gender equality. Krook, M. L. and J. True (2012). European Journal of International Relations 18(1): 103-127.

The diffusion of international norms and their effects on policy and political behaviour are central research questions in international relations. Informed by constructivism, prevailing models are marked by a crucial tension between a static view of norm content and a dynamic picture of norm adoption and implementation. Observing that norms continue to evolve after they emerge, we argue that a discursive approach offers a more promising way forward for theorizing and analysing the life cycles of international norms. We present a view of norms as processes, calling attention to both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ sources of dynamism. We illustrate this theory by tracing and comparing the life cycles of two global equality norms: gender-balanced decision-making and gender mainstreaming. We find that these norms emerged from two distinct policy realms, and after briefly converging in the mid-1990s, have since developed largely separately from, and often in tension with, one another.

When dad stays home too: Paternity leave, gender, and parenting. Rehel, E. M. (2013). Gender & Society 28(1): 110-132.

Drawing from 85 semi-structured interviews with fathers and mothers in three cities (Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago), I argue that when fathers in heterosexual couples experience the transition to parenthood in ways that are structurally comparable to mothers, they come to think about and enact parenting in ways that are more similar to mothers. I consider the specific role played by extended time off immediately after the birth of a child in structuring that experience. By drawing fathers into the daily realities of child care, free of workplace constraints, extended time off provides the space necessary for fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that then allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners. This shift from a manager-helper dynamic to that of coparenting creates the opportunity for the development of a more gender-equitable division of labour.

Desecularisation and sexual equality. Jeffreys, S. (2011). British Journal of Politics & International Relations 13(3): 364-382.

There has been a rise in the political power of organised religions in both western countries and the non-west in the last two decades. There has been desecularisation of the public sphere in countries such as the UK and Australia which takes the form of deliberate government policy both to consult with ‘faith communities’ and to create an influential role for them in policy formation. These developments are likely to endanger sexual equality because the religious organisations are usually discriminatory with respect to gender and sexuality, both in their employment practices and their ideologies. This article will examine the ways in which desecularisation has been taking place in the UK and Australia and the implications of this for sexual equality.

Informal institutions, institutional change, and gender equality. Waylen, G. (2013). Political Research Quarterly 67(1): 212-223.

This paper makes two claims: insights from gender research improve understandings of informal institutions and institutional change, and studying informal institutions helps scholars understand the gap between formal institutional change and outcomes. Informed by institutional analysis and feminist institutionalist scholarship, it explores the relationship between informal institutions, institutional change, and gender equality, using gender equality to scrutinize issues central to institutional change, demonstrating that institutional analyses improve when gender dynamics are incorporated. Showing the gendering of power relations highlights power in institutional change in new ways, improving understandings of why institutional change rarely happens as intended by institutional designers.

When do governments promote women’s rights? A framework for the comparative analysis of sex equality policy. Htun, M. and S. L. Weldon (2010).  Perspectives on Politics 8(1): 207-216.

This essay proposes a framework to analyse cross-national variation in women’s legal rights. To explore the distinct logics of policy change, we disaggregate sex equality policies on two dimensions: 1) whether they improve the status of women as a group or alleviate gender-based class inequalities, and 2) whether or not they challenge the doctrine of organized religion and the codified tradition of major cultural groups. We show that policies promoting gender equality seek fundamental social change and therefore challenge historical patterns of state-society interaction concerning relations between the state and the market; the respective authority of the state, religion, and cultural groups; and the contours of citizenship. Different issues, however, challenge different aspects of these relations. What’s more, the priorities, strategies, and effectiveness of advocates and opponents of change (including women’s movements, left parties, international NGOs, and organized religion) are shaped by state capacity, policy legacies, international vulnerability, and the degree of democracy.

Gendered lives: Communication, gender, and culture. Wood, J. T. (2013). Boston, Wadsworth.

Written by gender communication scholar Julia T. Wood, Gendered lives introduces you to theories, research, and pragmatic information, demonstrating the multiple and often interactive ways that our views of masculinity and femininity are shaped within contemporary culture. With the most up-to-date research, balanced perspectives of masculinity and femininity, a personal introduction to the field, and a conversational first-person writing style, this engaging text encourages you to think critically about gender and our society.

A major survey of gender inequality in contemporary society has found lingering echoes of old-fashioned, “male breadwinner” values, but also evidence that men are happier when they do their fair share of household chores. The findings are among dozens of results that have emerged from a five-year research project investigating equality between the sexes. It charts the causes, consequences and prospects for what the Danish sociologist, Gösta Esping-Andersen, called an “incomplete revolution” in gender equality in Europe, and asks how greater equality between men and women can be achieved.

Optimistically, parts of the study found that even outside countries such as the Nordic states, where governments have actively promoted measures designed to promote greater equality, the gap between men in women in fields like the division of domestic labour is closing. At the same time, however, the initiative also identified causes for deep concern. Many companies in the UK, for example, still see little incentive for altering the employment conditions of their staff to ensure that the work-life balance of men and women is equitable. Several of the researchers involved in the project also conclude that the only way to close certain aspects of the gulf between the sexes, such as the gender-pay gap, is through legal compulsion.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, was deliberately wide-ranging and complex. It covers attitudes and approaches towards gender equality over time, in different countries and at different levels – ranging from government policy to individual families. The researchers argue that this approach is important because we can only improve gender equality if we understand that it is the consequence of a network of multiple causes and effects.

Jacqueline Scott, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and co-editor of the book, said: “There has been a lot of social theory about how people ‘do’ gender, in other words, how they behave in accordance with society’s expectations about what it means to be a man or a woman. What we sometimes forget is that institutions are doing gender as well. Politicians, employers, schools and kindergartens, care homes and many other organisations all make decisions which impact directly on what is expected of families and these can challenge or reinforce traditional ideas about what men and women can or cannot do. If these decisions are not joined up, it can limit real gender equality overall.”

The idea of an incomplete revolution refers to a mixed picture in terms of gender equality across Europe. Since the 1960s, society has witnessed the demise of the traditional “male breadwinner” family, in which men went out to work and women stayed at home. More women have gone into higher education, managerial jobs, or professional occupations. Many now earn a salary comparable with their male counterparts. At the same time, however, it is widely acknowledged that the gap has not closed completely. Many women still struggle to strike a work-life balance, especially when it comes to having children. Some decide not to have children for the sake of their careers, while others “rein in” their careers to start a family. Often, they do this by reducing their working hours; in the UK, for example, 40% of women work part time, compared with just 10% of men. And the gender gap has only narrowed in certain areas – women still shoulder far more unpaid housework, for example.

Rising tide: Gender equality and cultural change around the world. Inglehart, R. and P. Norris (2003). Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press.

The twentieth century gave rise to profound changes in traditional sex roles. Rising Tide sets out to understand how modernization has changed cultural attitudes towards gender equality and to analyse the political consequences of this process. This book is the first to systematically compare attitudes towards gender equality worldwide, comparing almost 70 nations that run the gamut from rich to poor, agrarian to post-industrial. Rising Tide is essential reading for those interested in understanding issues of comparative politics, public opinion, political behaviour, political development, and political sociology.

Gender equality and quality of life: A Norwegian perspective. Gullvåg Holter, Øystein ; Helge Svare & Cathrine Egeland (2009). Oslo, The Nordic Gender Institute.

Norway was recently ranked as number one in an international gender gap index (World Economic Forum). Developments in Norway are relevant for understanding how gender equality can be achieved. In order to find out more about men, women and gender equality, a representative survey was made in Norway in 2007, which was more detailed and comprehensive than earlier survey research. In this report we describe the results of the survey: the changing, uneven and partially conflicting gender equality developments among men and women today. The survey “Gender Equality and Quality of Life” (referred to as GEQL07 in this report) has a sample of 2,805 women and men, who answered a questionnaire with 350 questions and statements on gender equality in spring 2007. The response rate was 41 percent.

The study was financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality. The work was carried out by a project team composed in co-operation between the Nordic Gender Institute (NIKK) and the Work Research Institute (WRI). The team was led by Øystein Gullvåg Holter, NIKK, and included Helge Svare and Cathrine Egeland, WRI. The project commenced in the autumn of 2006, with data collection conducted by TNS Gallup during April-May 2007.

The project team was supervised by a broad-based reference group. The task of the team was to design a study of men and women on men’s attitudes to and understanding of gender equality in relationships, the family, working life and society. The study should also augment the knowledge base for a future. Despite a rather moderate response rate, now quite usual in this kind of survey (and a common problem), the sample seems to be fairly representative in the main matters discussed in this report (see Method appendix). Data was collected both by post and using a questionnaire answered on the internet.

The questionnaire for the data collection was structured around eight basic areas/phases of life:

1.Childhood 2. Education 3. Work 4.Life in the household 5.Partner, choice of partner 6.Children and parents 7.Gender equality: experiences and attitudes 8.Health and quality of life

Within all these areas, questions were especially focused on gender equality issues. They were designed to highlight five different dimensions of gender equality, described below, as well as quality of life. This design made it possible not only to survey attitudes to equality, but also to study how these attitudes are connected to practices, and how attitudes and practices vary in relation to other circumstances, such as distribution of resources in married or co-habiting two-sex couples, social-psychological gender formation and gender equality in childhood and youth, in addition to ordinary background variables such as sex, age, socio-economical status and housing.

Gender research has, for a long time, focused on how men’s and women’s identities, situations in life, attitudes, etc. are constituted in mutual, dynamic interaction characterised by voiced and unvoiced negotiations and expectations, within a context of material and cultural structures which also ascribe men and women different social positions. Although, strictly speaking, starting as a follow-up of the 1988 survey of men, the new project was designed on the basis that women should be included. Therefore, the study includes answers by women as well as by men, although the detail level regarding men is a bit higher.

Literature on intersectionality

Intersectionality and the quality of the gender equality architecture. Walby, S., J. Armstrong, et al. (2012). Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society 19(4): 446-481.The restructuring of the equality architecture in Britain is analysed for its implications for the theory and practice of intersectionality. Going beyond McCall and Hancock, different approaches to the intersection of multiple inequalities are identified and investigated for their utility in the theory and practice of equality in the context of multiple intersecting equalities. In particular, the preference for “mutual constitution” rather than “mutual shaping” is interrogated. Several definitions of and several criteria of quality of the equality architecture are identified, drawing on a discussion of the literature. It is found that while restructuring of the British equality architecture increased its quality in some aspects, by widening its coverage of multiple inequalities and policy domains, in other aspects it reduced it, notably in its resources. The findings vary according to the definition of the equality architecture deployed. Conclusions for the theory and practice of intersectionality are drawn. The prioritization of “mutual constitution” in theory and practice is found to be flawed; “mutual shaping” is offered as a more successful approach.