Equality, Diversity and Disadvantage in Employment

By Mike Noon; Emmanuel Ogbonna | Go to book overview
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8 Diverse Equality in
Europe: The Construction
Elisabeth Michielsens, Linda Clarke and Christine Wall
In this chapter we examine the definition and nature of gender equality cross-nationally and the obstacles to applying a common integrated framework. It is based on research carried out under a NOW (New Opportunities for Women) programme with partners in Britain, Denmark and Spain, which focused on achieving equality in a highly male-dominated sector the construction industry. 'Equality' assumed different meanings in the different national contexts and equal opportunities policies varied significantly.
Gender equality has long been on the European agenda: the principle of equal treatment was established in the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and since then the concept has been refined through legislation and action programmes.But gender equality on a European scale is far from established and the European labour force remains highly gender-segregated. A major problem confronting attempts at improvement is the lack of a common understanding of 'equality'. Equality has been defined as:
Equal treatment. Originating from the liberal tradition, this is an individual, theoretical and legally-defined concept of equality assuming that no gender discrimination should be made (Peters, 1996). Its weakness is a disregard for different individual starting positions in society.
Equal opportunities goes beyond the equal treatment principle, addressing the issue of equality from a more factual and collective standpoint (Forbes, 1989). Unlike 'equal treatment', it has never


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