Gender Equality Bargaining: Developing Theory and Practice

TitleGender Equality Bargaining: Developing Theory and Practice
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsWilliamson, Sue, and Baird, Marian
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Pagination155 - 169
Keywordscollective bargaining, gender, gender equality, women and work, working conditions

It has long been recognized that collective bargaining is at the heart of industrial relations. Research on collective bargaining was largely gender blind; however, since the late 1980s, researchers have begun to examine how collective bargaining can progress gender equality in the workplace. The practice of negotiating for terms and conditions of employment to advance workplace gender equality is known as ‘gender equality bargaining’. This article provides an overview of the development and debates around gender equality bargaining over the last 25 years. It shows how definitions and concepts have broadened so that ‘gender equality bargaining’ is now effectively a subset of a wider ‘equality bargaining’ project being implemented by some unions. Just as the concept of equality bargaining has expanded, so too has the range of gender equality bargaining items, reflecting the gendered needs of both male and female employees. This prompts the authors to question whether gender equality bargaining is becoming mainstreamed within collective bargaining and to consider possible attendant implications. This article concludes by framing the following articles in this special edition, highlighting the diverse subject areas which are being negotiated, the multiple approaches being used and the theoretical interdisciplinary approaches being applied to advance both the practice and scholarship of gender equality bargaining.