This introductory chapter begins with a brief assessment of the growth of women's employment in the second half of the twentieth century. It then sets out the purpose of the book, which is to compare two countries — Italy and Britain — and investigate changes across four successive birth cohorts in women's work-family histories, from the time when they leave full-time education until they reach the age of 40. The discussion then turns to the relevance of the current study, the analytical approach used, and the selection of countries and cohorts. An overview of subsequent chapters is also presented.
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