Do French women really have it all? The origins and impact of wo

Do French women really have it all? The origins and impact of wo

Résumé :

 

This presentation discusses the image of the French “working mom” supported by a generous social policy in two ways: first, by examining where this policy historically came from, and second, by revisiting the question of its effects on French women. As is most often the case with feminist policy, the intention was not first and foremost feminist, and the mix of provisions which can today be analyzed as forming a supportive work-family reconciliation policy were not initially thought of in those terms. The French policy tradition regarding the work-family interface is generally characterized by a high level of state intervention, but this translates into different, sometimes conflictive orientations. The extent to which it goes towards supporting women’s labor force participation depends on a power balance between feminist and familialist actors, and it also varies a lot according to social class. Therefore the effects of this policy context are not homogeneous, and need to be analyzed specifically for different categories of women. Based on a study of gender inequalities in the French higher administration, this presentation focuses on the most privileged categories of women to show how work-family policies indeed enable them to have rewarding careers, but also to show the limits of what these policies do.
 

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