Flexible Working, Work-Life Balance, and Gender Equality: Introduction

Soc Indic Res. 2020;151(2):365-381. doi: 10.1007/s11205-018-2025-x. Epub 2018 Nov 26.


This special brings together innovative and multidisciplinary research (sociology, economics, and social work) using data from across Europe and the US to examine the potential flexible working has on the gender division of labour and workers' work-life balance. Despite numerous studies on the gendered outcomes of flexible working, it is limited in that the majority is based on qualitative studies based in the US. The papers of this special issue overcome some of the limitations by examining the importance of context, namely, family, organisational and country context, examining the intersection between gender and class, and finally examining the outcomes for different types of flexible working arrangements. The introduction to this special issue provides a review of the existing literature on the gendered outcomes of flexible working on work life balance and other work and family outcomes, before presenting the key findings of the articles of this special issue. The results of the studies show that gender matters in understanding the outcomes of flexible working, but also it matters differently in different contexts. The introduction further provides policy implications drawn from the conclusions of the studies and some thoughts for future studies to consider.

Keywords: Contexts; Family; Flexible working; Gender equality; National; Organisational; Work–life balance.