CAPABLE – Enhancing Capabilities?

CAPABLE – Enhancing Capabilities?

Rethinking Work-life Policies and their Impact from a New Perspective


Please note that we are now only accepting interns on a very limited basis.

Interested in joining the CAPABLE team?

The CAPABLE project offers a limited number of internships on a semi-annual basis to students with a social science background. Preference is given to students at the Master’s level, but advanced undergraduate students are also welcome to apply. For more information please contact Principal Investigator Mara Yerkes at

The CAPABLE project

This research project investigates the role of national and local policies across Europe in shaping men and women’s real opportunities for work-life balance. Significant work-family policy advancements designed to help men and women more equally combine employment with other spheres of life have been made in recent decades, yet gender inequality persists. Improving gender equality in work-life balance is therefore high on policy agendas throughout Europe. Decades of research in this area have produced key insights but work-family theories fail to sufficiently explain the tenacity of this inequality. To understand why these inequalities have not been overcome necessitates a multi-dimensional approach that captures differences in capabilities – what individuals are effectively able to achieve – and how they are embedded in diverse community and social contexts.

CAPABLE is developing and applying complex models derived from Sen’s (1992) capability approach to generate fundamentally new knowledge on how work-life balance policies impact an individual’s capability to achieve work-life balance in Europe by incorporating the understudied dimension of community. Integrating locality, local relationships and local policies offers new ways of theorising work-family issues, such as gender inequality. The CAPABLE project does this by shifting the focus from outcomes – like gender (in)equality in paid work, or work-family conflict – towards processes that lead to these outcomes.

The central question in this project is: To what extent do work-life balance policies enhance men and women’s capabilities to achieve work-life balance? CAPABLE progresses scientific and policy frontiers using innovative, mixed-methods approaches at multiple policy levels to analyse: 1. the availability, accessibility and design of work-family policies; 2. what these policies mean for men and women’s capabilities to achieve work-life balance given their embeddedness in individual, community and social contexts; 3. whether work-life policies enhance individual wellbeing; and 4. what policy tools are needed for developing sustainable work-life balance policies that enhance gender equal work-life capabilities.

This research project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The principal investigator is Associate Professor Dr. Mara A. Yerkes. The research team consists of Dr. Yerkes, 3 PhD candidates, and support staff. Interested in the project and joining this team as an intern? For more information about the CAPABLE project and the team members, see this website (

Internship description

The specific responsibilities will vary per intern (based on your interests and skills), but possible responsibilities include:

  • supporting the principal investigator in analyzing expert questionnaires and documents on work-life policies from across 8 European countries (Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain Sweden, the UK);
  • supporting the principal investigator in preparing and conducting focus groups to be held in Amsterdam and Nijmegen with questions relating to how people engage with work-life balance policies;
  • supporting the principal investigator in thematically analyzing focus group data (with Nvivo);
  • supporting the PhD students with the collection and analysis of local questionnaire data in Slovenia, Spain and/or the UK
  • supporting the PhD students in preparing focus groups to be held in Slovenia, Spain and/or the UK;
  • participating in the activities and meetings of the CAPABLE team and of the research chair group Public Health within the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science.


We are looking for advanced Bachelor or Master’s students in the social sciences, sociology, political science, public administration, or a related discipline who:

  • have an excellent study record, and an obvious curiosity and enthusiasm for academic research;
  • have the motivation to work hard, learn a lot, and participate as a member of our team;
  • have knowledge of either policy analysis or qualitative research methods;
  • have the ability to work both independently and as a team player;
  • have affinity with social policy, gender relations and work-family policy;
  • are highly proficient in English (C2 level).

We offer:

  • ECTS credits for the internship, dependent upon your level and course of study;
  • the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of being involved in a large-scale, interdisciplinary research project and being part of an international research team;
  • gaining experience in policy analysis and/or qualitative research methods, and in data collection and analysis;

Additional information

Any inquiries about the application procedure may be addressed to the project assistant ( For questions about the internship or the project, contact the principal investigator: Dr Mara Yerkes (


Interested students are invited to submit:

  1. A brief letter of motivation stating your qualifications and reasons for interest in the internship;
  2. Your CV;
  3. Grade transcript of previous education at undergraduate or MA/MSc level;
  4. One academic or professional reference, and the contact details of 2 additional references.

We accept ongoing applications. Please submit complete applications to: Selected students will be invited for an interview (via Skype).