Rockefeller grant to support Friedan-led Italy conference in 2001on U.S. and E.U. approaches to work and family policy

The Institute for Women and Work at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations recently received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to hold an international conference next year at the foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center on Lake Como in the foothills of the Italian alps.

The Bellagio, Italy, conference, which will be led by distinguished visiting professor Betty Friedan and Francine Moccio, director of the institute, is titled "Gross Domestic Product vs. Quality of Life: Balancing Work and Family." It will focus on the effects of comparative systems of collective bargaining, public policy and business practices on work and family issues among industrialized countries of the European Union (E.U.), Japan, Australia, and some Eastern European countries, and their implications for U.S. public policy and labor initiatives. The conference will take place Jan. 29-Feb. 2, 2001, and will involve the Feminism and Legal Theory Project at Cornell's Law School.

In attendance will be influential scholars, cultural leaders, corporate decision makers, and labor union representatives from the United States, E.U. countries and other industrialized nations.

"We are extremely grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for helping to foster a trans-Atlantic learning community devoted to helping people balance work and family life," said Friedan. "There is much we can learn from one another."

According to Moccio, the United States has loosened its employment policies in recent years in an effort to generate more jobs and boost its national economy, while many European countries have made it a priority to retain their stricter labor policies and wider-reaching social welfare programs. As national economies become more intertwined in the global economy, those different approaches to policy are beginning to influence each other, observed Moccio. The conference will help foster cross-border information sharing on public policy toward work and families.

For example, "U.S. policymakers will be able to learn how E.U. countries with distinct histories have managed to construct a family-centered approach to public policy, with sensible provisions for day care, flexible work hours, vacations and parental leave that benefits all their citizens, without dire consequences to their economies," Friedan said.

The Bellagio Center, where the conference will be held, comprises historic 17th- to 19th-century buildings on 50 beautifully maintained acres of gardens and park. Initially the property of American philanthropist Ella Holbrook Walker, it was bequeathed to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1959 with the stipulation that it be used for the promotion of international understanding and innovative thinking on a global level. It has since become a meeting place for scholars and practitioners from every region of the world.

For more information about the conference, contact Briana Barocas, Institute for Women and Work, (212) 340-2867,

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