The continuing expansion of women's employment has increasingly focused attention on the question of how the caring work traditionally carried out by unpaid women will be accomplished. In particular, how can caring responsibilities be combined with a long-term career? In this paper, we assess the significance of the national context through a comparison of the biographies of career bank managers, male and female, in Britain and Norway. We find that although the (considerably) more family-friendly policies of the Norwegian state do have a positive impact, particularly in somewhat exceptional cases, nevertheless in general in both countries, individuals have difficulties in combining employment with caring and no examples of a 'two career' household were found in either country. These findings emphasise the continuing tension between market forces and social reproduction, which has been exacerbated by the erosion of the 'male breadwinner' model of family caring and has yet to be resolved in a satisfactory manner.