The book begins by posing fundamental questions about the historical roots of Sweden's contemporary policy of gender equality. Many provisions of its labor market policy and social welfare system, including paid parental leaves, child allowances, and subsidized childcare, are designed to facilitate mothers' employment. After presenting a conceptual framework for understanding the social and cultural constructions of gender through work and its social valuation, the introduction suggests that agrarian ideas of women's gainful labor persisted in Sweden well into the mid-twentieth century, helping to explain why the two-breadwinner model was more readily adopted there than in most other modern welfare states.