The paper reflects on the gender specific nature of private and public spheres as discussed in feminist discourses in European and American contexts. Its aim is to explore the potential of the concepts of public and private in analysing the issue of reconciliation of work and family, connected with women’ presence in the public sphere, with the hierarchy between the public and private and with the gender power asymmetry. The public and private as analytical constructs are helpful in moving beyond the individual level and understanding the social-political structure and historical context. These categories characterize different value systems with a hierarchical relation connected with the construction of ‘two genders’ and gendered division of work. The paper also focuses on the concept of women’s emancipation, its justification and understanding of equality, and concrete changes in women’s life. Women’s experience of their ‘double existence’ in the public and private life is thematized as a question of reconciliation of work and family with some period particularities. Differences in forming men’s and women’s identifies during modernity depending on their experience in the two different worlds are shown as relevant.