Myths about today’s dads are hurting women just as much as men.
The false stereotypes of the lazy, uninvolved father and the idiot who can’t handle a baby are prevalent — and many people, sadly, believe them. In my new book “All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Business Alike — and How We Can Fix It Together,” I discuss how wrong and damaging these are.
These myths fuel backward laws and policies that hold back women in the workplace (like the paternity leave policy I successfully challenged.) They stigmatise men who do caregiving, making it harder for committed dads to succeed at work. They hurt kids by keeping parents away, even in the initial weeks of life. And they hurt businesses, slowing down the entire economy.
Here are 10 things everyone should know about working dads:
1. They’re “All In” parents.
Dads don’t come home from work and kick their feet up, leaving mums to do it all. They spend an average of three hours a day with the kids, caring for them. Virtually all dads who live with their kids bathe and dress them, eat with them, help them with homework and speak with them about their day at least several days a week, if not every day.
2. They’re working equally hard as mums on behalf of their families.
Men and women put in equal hours when you combine paid work, childcare, and household chores. A study that claimed men get more “leisure time” was based on a misreading of data. Equally bad was an article that falsely claimed a global study found “women lazier than men.” You can read all about it in the book’s introduction, here.
3. They’re battling work-life conflict.
Working dads want more time with their families. More than three-quarters feel they don’t get enough time with new children. They’re suffering from the same work-life conflict as women — even more so, according to one study.
4. Very few get paid paternity leave.
While just over half of employers offer some paid maternity leave, only 14% offer any paid paternity leave. And it’s getting worse — the length of leave offered to new dads is going down.
5. They get punished at work for caregiving at home.
Men who take time off to care for their children sometimes get demoted or even fired when they return to work. In “All In,” I write about a man whose boss rebuked him for taking off a couple of days after his daughter was born in an emergency. (That boss happened to be a pregnant woman.) Another boss refused an employee the family leave time he was legally entitled to, explaining that women should do the caregiving unless they are “in a coma or dead.” These stigmas push men not to take the paternity leave they are offered, even when it’s paid — thereby taking choices away from men and women.