In the last decade gender has come to be recognised as a key dimension of the welfare state. A large literature now exists connecting the frameworks of social policy with family structure, caring work, and labour market behaviour. The structures of social policy have in tum been linked to the development of the modem women's movement and the influence these movements have exerted through parliament, bureaucracy, unions, and changing values amongst women themselves. In the same period studies of the welfare state have been turning strongly comparative. Such comparative work has been undertaken in both quantitative analysis, through the development of new data resources such as the Luxembourg Income Study, and in qualitative analysis, conducted in both historical and institutional modes. A growing body of studies now compare and contrast the welfare states of many countries, though these are still largely limited to the nations of the OECD. The papers presented at the seminar and published here attempt to bring these trends together in the specific context of comparisons between Canada and Australia.