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Keywords:

  • gender equality;
  • agenda setting;
  • economic performance

Promoting certain kinds of gender equality—such as promoting and supporting female participation in paid work or male engagement with unpaid care work—is costly. Yet, there has been little examination in gender and policy research of the economic determinants of gendered policy change. In this article we investigate, using graphs and descriptive analysis derived from three data sets, whether the agenda-setting possibilities of feminist policy actors pushing for redistributive gender policy are constrained by economic conditions. Our hypotheses are that it is easier to get costly gender equality policies on the agenda, first, when the economy is growing and, second, when advocates utilise an economic case to frame their arguments. We find that gender equality policy agendas in the UK appear to follow periods of positive economic performance and that economic framing of gender equality policy is essential.