In the last decade governments have been encouraged to increase the female occupation by adopting work-family reconciliation policies. In the European context, a relevant role has been played by the European Union in pressuring the reform process that all member states experienced during the 2000s. In Italy the reconciliation policies have been introduced in year 2000. Despite the promotion of measures such as the parental leave, the care services and the financial incentives for flexible working time, the Italian rate of female workers still remains one of the lowest in Europe. The main objective of the essay is to offer an explanation of the Italian difficulties to reform the gender contract upon which the welfare state has been established. By adopting an historical-institutionalist approach, my purpose is to identify the key domestic factors that may help to explain the so far weak results of this public policy.