The paper describes the current employment patterns of men and women in local government in Scotland, Wales and England, and examines the gender relations of work during a period of restructuring which is challenging the professionalised welfare bureaucracy and replacing it with a managerialised state informed by market principles. Men are declining as a percentage of employees, alongside decreasing numbers of full-time jobs and increasing part-time and temporary contracts, suggesting some decrease in the relative desirability of public service employment. Nevertheless the challenges to traditional conceptions of paternalistic, bureaucratic welfare have facilitated women's increasing access to professional and managerial grades, but men have continued to dominate most positions of power and authority. The continuing gender divisions of labour, and women's perceptions of a sharper axis of gender conflict surrounding the period of reorganisation into single tier authorities in Scotland and Wales, suggest that it is not simply a matter of time until a rational, functional state eradicates remaining inequalities between the sexes. Neither however can a radical feminist perspective, which treats the state as bound to reproduce women's subordination, account for the degree of progressive change. Instead it is argued that there is genuine indeterminacy in the restructuring process, which, given women's representation and participation, seems likely to disrupt further the legacy of patriarchal relations informing the trajectory of state bureaucracies.