Equality, Diversity and Disadvantage in Employment

By Mike Noon; Emmanuel Ogbonna | Go to book overview

8 Diverse Equality in
Europe: The Construction
Sector
Elisabeth Michielsens, Linda Clarke and Christine Wall
INTRODUCTION
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.
DIFFERENT CONCEPTS OF EQUALITY
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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