1st Edition

Gender Equality in Public Services Chasing the Dream

By Hazel Conley, Margaret Page Copyright 2015
    168 Pages
    by Routledge

    168 Pages
    by Routledge

    The provision of state funded and democratically accountable care services represents one of the most potentially transformative advances in gendered social relations and equality for women by ‘defamilizing’ care and providing paid work. But the cost of providing these services, which women have access to them and how they should be provided are always at the forefront of debate, especially during economic crises. Socially funded and publicly accountable care services are therefore a key site of feminist activity, but also the frontline for spending cuts and 'reform' during times of austerity. 

    Gender Equality in Public Services analyses how gender equality work in British public services is changing in response to factors including: equality legislation; the erosion of local democracy, privatisation of public services and new forms of feminist activism and leadership. It also assesses the challenges and opportunities for promoting women’s equality in producing and using public services.

    Impacting upon developed and developing economies, the arguments in this challenging book explore the potential of equality and feminist activism and leadership for radical and transformational change. It will appeal to advanced students, researchers and practitioners interested in social policy, feminist organization theory, equal opportunities and gender mainstreaming practice.

    1. Introduction  2. Women’s Equality and the Welfare State – Contradictory political landscapes  3. Dreams and Visions of Feminist Equality in the Local State  4. Translating Dreams into Practice: Practitioner reflections  5. Implementing the Gender Equality Duty - Looking through the window of opportunity  6. Chasing the Dream: Feminists and researchers creating spaces for change 

    Case Studies: 1. Modernisation and mainstreaming: gender equality by performance management  2. Feminist leadership, precarious progress: from feminist social justice to privatisation and outsourcing  3. Belief not duty: leading gender equality and diversity within partnerships and with local communities  4. Promoting women’s equality through collaborative feminist leadership  5. Balancing intersectionality, ‘cohesion’ and cuts


    Hazel Conley is Reader in Human Resource Management in the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity at Queen Mary University of London. She is the joint editor of The Gower Handbook of Discrimination at Work.

    Margaret Page is a senior lecturer in organisation studies in Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, UK. Her research and teaching investigates and supports managers and activists who promote women’s equality and diversity in public services.


    'Hazel Conley and Margaret Page’s book offers an important and thought-provoking study of equality law in practice, and of feminist encounters with the local state as decision-maker, service provider and employer. Conley and Page’s clear-sighted yet impassioned account of how equality practitioners engage with the law, in particular with the short-lived but ground breaking 'gender equality duty', is of particular interest for lawyers seeking examples of 'reflexive legislation' in action. It deserves to be an important part of the legal, as well as policy, debates on equality.' - Diamond Ashiagbor, Professor of Law, SOAS University of London, UK

    ''Gender Equality in Public Services' should be essential reading for all gender equality practitioners in local authorities in England and women’s equality activists more generally. It is rigorous and readable, original and timely.' - Judith Squires, Professor, University of Bristol, UK

    ‘Informed by feminist theory, Page and Conley provide a comprehensive review of feminist engagement with the proactive, liberating and coercive welfare state at the macro level, before delivering a thoughtful account of the implementation of the gender equality duty within the local state. Emphasising gender equality as a ‘direction of travel’ rather than a ‘single destination’, the book elaborates the tensions which beset the search for gender equality, whilst profiling the fundamental institutional work enacted by activists and equality officers on the ground. This is an important text for those researching, studying and performing equality.’ - Dr. Rachel Ashworth, Reader in Public Services Management, Cardiff University, UK