The aim in this paper is to contribute to the development of a research agenda for the comparative analysis of gender relations in Western Europe. Its focus is the clarification of the methodological and theoretical issues involved. Several different indices of gender inequality are assessed. It is argued that it is important to distinguish between the form and degree of patriarchy, rather than assuming that these are closely associated. Data from the EC and Scandinavia are used to illustrate the issues involved. Dilemmas include that of the place of part-time employment given its potentially different implications in different countries.