The Political Economy of Japan's Low Fertility

By Frances McCall Rosenbluth | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Gendering the Varieties of Capitalism:
Gender Bias in Skills and Social Policies

MARGARITA ESTÉVEZ-ABE


Introduction

Despite recent improvements, gender inequality in the labor market still persists even in the most advanced industrial societies. Women are generally less likely to hold positions of responsibility; women tend to be segregated into a narrower range of occupations; and women are paid less. Even in Scandinavian countries, otherwise known for their success in achieving gender equality, women are segregated into “female jobs.” This chapter seeks to explain why such gender inequality persists.

To this end, this chapter focuses on national skill profiles. It argues that the degree to which countries rely on specific skills rather than general skills produces labor market bias against women. In explaining gender inequality, this chapter draws together two separate literatures: one, the literature on gendering the welfare state (hereafter referred to as GWS); and two, the literature on varieties of capitalism (hereafter VOC). The GWS literature has produced the most vibrant and exciting research on welfare states in recent years. It has identified gender bias in welfare programs, recategorized welfare states in a more gendersensitive perspective, and identified the impact of the welfare state on employment patterns of women. I argue that such gendering perspective needs to be extended beyond the welfare state if we are to fully understand the status of women in the labor market. This is where I bring in the VOC literature.

The VOC literature has improved our understanding of how different market economies operate. It has identified how key institutions of the

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