Policy Press

Publishing with a purpose

Women in and out of paid work

Changes across generations in Italy and Britain

By Cristina Solera


Jul 29, 2009

Page count

240 pages




240 x 172 mm


Policy Press
Women in and out of paid work

Over the last fifty years women's employment has increased markedly throughout developed countries. Women of younger generations are much more likely than their mothers and grandmothers to enter the labour market and stay in it after they marry and have children. Are these changes due only to changes in women's investments and preferences, or also to the opportunities and constraints within which women form their choices? Have women with higher and lower educational and occupational profiles combined family responsibilities with paid work differently? And have their divisions changed?

With an innovative approach, this book compares Italy and Great Britain, investigating transformations in women's transitions in and out of paid work across four subsequent birth cohorts, from the time they leave full-time education up to their 40s. It provides a comprehensive discussion of demographic, economic and sociological theories and contains large amounts of information on changes over time in the two countries, both in women's work histories and in the economic, institutional and cultural context in which they are embedded. By comparing across both space and time, the book makes it possible to see how different institutional and normative configurations shape women's life courses, contributing to help or hinder the work-family reconciliation and to reduce or reinforce inequalities. 

"Women in and out of paid work" will be valuable reading for students, academics, professionals, policy makers and anyone interested in women's studies, work-family reconciliation, gender and class inequalities, social policy and sociology.

"....Solera’s contribution should be part of the obligatory readings of all family and labour market sociologists interested in the study of women’s life chances in contemporary society." Alvaro Martinez Perez, Sociologica Online

'...it is impossible in a short review to do justice to the impressive analytical complexity of this study. Suffice it to say, Solera’s book is a model of theoretically informed empirical research on the changing pattern of women and paid work in Italy and Britain over the past 50 years.' - Work, employment and society

"This book breaks new ground in our understanding of women and careers. It is a must read for anyone interested in gender and the lifecourse and exemplifies the very best of contemporary sociological analysis - a scientific tour de force that merits our applause." Gosta Esping-Andersen, Professor of Sociology, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Breen's testimonail in reviews

Cristina Solera teaches sociology of the family at the University of Torino, Italy. She graduated in sociology at the University of Trento with a thesis on child poverty and family policies and obtained a PhD in political and social sciences at the European University Institute, in Florence. Her main areas of interest are comparative social policy and family policy, poverty, gender studies and longitudinal analyses on women's labour market participation and fertility.

Introduction; Conceptualising influences on women's employment transitions: from various sociological and economic theories towards an integrated approach; Changes in the Italian and British contexts: the link with women's employment patterns; Method, data and hypotheses; Who leaves the labour market and who returns? The changing effect of marriage and children; 'Her' and 'his' education and class: new polarisations in work histories; Conclusions.