Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies


International Studies

First Advisor

Kathleen Kelly Janus


Following the establishment of the European Parental Leave Directive (96/34/EC), the female employment rate in Italy is still ranked the third lowest in the European Union (EU) and Italian women continue to do twice as much household work as Italian men. Parents, especially women, struggle to find a balance between professional work and their family lives in a society that encourages the traditional gendered roles of the housewife and the breadwinner. The following study is a theoretical analysis of the Parental Leave Directive and the potential domestic influences that may prevent Italy from progressing socially towards gender equality. This study looks at the work of feminist authors Joan Williams, Arlie Hochschild, and Vicki Schultz to understand why the implementation of the Parental Leave Directive is simply not enough to generate social change in Italy regarding work-family reconciliation. The findings of the legal analysis in this study show that in order for Italy to move forward in gender equality, policies must be successful in eliminating the underlying political, sociological and cultural factors that perpetuate the traditional gendered family roles that revolve around the masculine norm.