In this article, we explore the interaction between female and male employment, parenting responsibilities and family policy in Russia and Sweden. The study is based first on indicators of public social services, assistance for families and labour force data; and second, on the ISSP modules on Family and Changing Gender Roles (years 1994, 2002). The results show that both Sweden and Russia facilitate the 'dual-earner' family model, but that Sweden places a greater emphasis on dual-caring and flexible work arrangements for women. The support for traditional gender roles was much higher and more uniform in Russia than in Sweden. The proportion of 'dual-earner' and female-led families was nevertheless higher in Russia than in Sweden, especially in 1994 when major restructuring in the social and economic sphere was occurring. The findings suggest that family policy is instrumental in facilitating female employment, but does not necessarily bring changes in gender-role attitudes.