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Diversity & Inclusion

Why Aren’t Dads Taking Parental Leave?

Companies are offering leave—but they're missing a key element to make it appealing to men.

It's not that dads are taking no parental leave; the NYT reported this week that 90% of fathers take some time off of work after the birth of their children.


But they're not taking much of it: 76% of them are back to work within a week of their child's birth or adoption. The Times report highlighted that the majority of fathers take less than 10 days off before returning to work.

An explanation was offered: men might feel stigmatized for taking leave, or worried they'll miss out on future opportunities.

And sadly, that's valid, since that's what often happens to women who take extended maternity leave. Meredith Guerriero, head of U.S. partnerships at Pinterest, spoke to AdAge about the effects of her maternity leave on her career: "When you're out on mat leave, it's kind of like you're out of sight, out of mind. I remember having a situation where I was not promoted because I was on mat leave. They will say it's not because of that, but I think about all the women I know who have had similar situations."

But a new white paper from the Boston College Center for Work & Family, reported the Times, found more than 60% of men took the full amount when one thing was true:

The leave was fully paid.

Women, on the other hand, don't need leave to be fully paid to take advantage of it. In the study cited, 93% of mothers took the maximum amount of time off, compared to 62% of fathers.

If we look at rates of taking parental leave in California, where a recent state policy provides paid parental leave to both men and women, but capped at 60 or 70% of parents' wages or a max benefit of $1,300 per week, we see the same thing. After the policy was put in place, women took five weeks more parental leave than before, whereas men took only a few days more.

It's not that women care less about money than men. Per the co-author of the study, it might be that men are under more pressure after the birth of a child to maintain stable income, especially if they are part of a heterosexual couple and their partner needs to take time off work, regardless of whether or not it's paid, in order to physically recover from giving birth.

Only 20-30% of companies offer paid parental leave at all, and until paid family leave is made law at the federal level, that number will only increase on a one-off basis, as individual companies decide to offer it or states pass local policies to mandate it.

But it's important that as companies (and states and ideally the whole country) start to offer paid parental leave, that it be fully paid for both parents so that both of them have a chance to bond with their child.

As of now, many companies distinguish between primary caregivers, who are often given up to 16-20 weeks of paid time off, and secondary caregivers, who sometimes get only 2-4 weeks, if they're given leave at all.

That distinction, applied at birth, can have consequences that last for a child's whole life. It falsely posits that one parent, often the mother, is more important to or better at raising the child than the other, setting families up to share childcare unevenly.

The benefits of fathers taking parental leave apply to everyone in the family:

And benefits even apply to the companies themselves. A LinkedIn report on paid paternity leave and the culture of not taking it noted that "it's very profitable not to drive people — both women and men — out of the labor force."

Family leave is in a dire state in America, which is the only industrialized country (and one of only three countries overall!) in the world that does not mandate paid parental leave.

We have a long way to go until our family benefits are on par with those of other nations or until those benefits are available to workers not in tech or banking, including and especially hourly workers and contract workers. But companies can at least start by making sure all parental leave, not just primary-parent leave, is paid.

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Want to discuss this topic further? Join us for a conversation about the importance of empowering fathers in the fight for the gender equality.

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How These Companies Are Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.

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"There are an extensive amount of things that have to go perfectly at the same time," says the former engineer (and current product manager at live event ticketing platform SeatGeek).

It was that interest in understanding how things actually worked that drove Anuja to study engineering—first electrical, during her undergrad in India, and then computer science, during her master's program in the U.S.

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The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

3 Pieces of Advice from Working Moms at Pluralsight

Being fully committed to work and family is a challenge that many working parents have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless pursuing a fulfilling full-time career, while taking an active role as a parent. Achieving a healthy balance can help keep you motivated and productive at work, while allowing you to be fully present when you're home.

We recently chatted with working moms at technology skills platform, Pluralsight, about their best advice for striking that elusive work-life balance. Here were their key points:

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How to Make the Most of Being on a Growing Team: 3 Tips from Plex’s Adriana Bosinceanu

When the startup Adriana Bosinceanu was working for got acquired, things changed fast.

She went from being one of eight engineers on a small team building a streaming service to joining a company that was five times larger and had a much bigger scope.

That company was Plex, where Adriana has been working remotely as a software engineer for the last four and a half years.

As her team grew from two people to ten, Adriana decided to lean into the opportunity to grow; along the way, she found herself deepening her technical skills, her self-confidence, and her relationships. We sat down with Adriana to learn exactly how she did that, and to hear the tips she has for other engineers experiencing growth opportunities on their team.

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What These Companies Are Doing to Celebrate Juneteenth 2021

*Updated on June 17th, 2021 to reflect Juneteenth officially being named a Federal Holiday in the U.S.*

Juneteenth has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s, but in recent years (particularly in response to global protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans), there has been a surge in interest in the day that celebrates freedom.

Before it became an official federal holiday, many businesses shifted toward marking June 19th as an annual company holiday, creating different initiatives around the holiday and offering employees opportunities to learn, reflect, and take action toward racial equality.

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