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Gender-specific protective labour laws are considered unacceptable by many analysts because it is presumed they must necessarily adversely affect employment opportunities for women. This paper reviews United States research which has sought to assess the validity of this assumption; and reports on the impact of these laws within Australia. The assumption that gender-specific labour laws adversely affect female employment opportunities is not supported by United States research or Australian data. It is concluded that a reform strategy centred on simple abolition may involve loss of employee protection without necessarily producing any compensating increase in opportunities for women.