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Gender Equality and Public Policy: Measuring Progress in Europe, Paola Profeta

Reviewed by Olga Avdeyeva

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In this book, Paola Profeta argues that the uneven progress toward gender equality in contemporary Europe is best explained by variation in gender-targeted public policies and by variation in the presence of women in political and business leadership. While many European states adopted an array of legal guarantees of gender equality, scholars have struggled to produce reliable measures of the effects of these policies on gender equality. In Gender Equality and Public Policy, Profeta sets forth to resolve this challenge by offering a comparative examination of key gender equality policies, analyzing the effects of these policies on gender-balanced labor force participation, and demonstrating how women’s presence in political leadership leads to gender-balanced public policy.

The book begins by defining the key analytical concepts of the study; identifying gender gaps in education, the labor market, and politics; and providing an overview of the main factors that explain the persistence of gaps. Revealing variation in gender imbalances across the European states, Profeta recognizes the complexity of historical, structural, cultural, and institutional interactions, but she settles for discussing and analyzing public policies as the only factor contributing to the persistence of gender imbalances—an arguably limited goal.

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