How men are using paternity leave time off to advance their careers instead of helping with child care duties at home

By Victoria Wellman

Last updated at 5:14 PM on 1st March 2012

The roles that men and women play in the home and as parents have evolved dramatically over the years as responsibilities continue to be more evenly divided.

But a new study exploring the ways in which maternity and paternity leave is used suggests that men are still not pulling their weight when it comes to infant care.

And what is worse, even with access to equal time off for paternity leave, researchers found that men used the time to advance their careers rather than attend to chores for the baby.

Happy families: A recent report revealed that given equal leave from work, men use very little time for child care and instead use it to advance their careersHappy families: A recent report revealed that given equal leave from work, men use very little time for child care and instead use it to advance their careers

The recent report that appeared in the January issue of the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, comes courtesy of a survey taken of 181 male and female professors with children under two years old.

Steven and Christopher Rhoads, a political scientist at the University of Virginia and assistant professor of education at the University of Connecticut respectively, conducted the survey in 2001.

Despite the fact that the majority of those interviewed over the phone agreed that men and women should split child care duties, the reality proved otherwise.

The report revealed that with the same amount of leave, only three of 109 male faculty members admitted to having taken care of half or more of tasks whereas 70 of their 73 female colleagues surveyed said they did at least half if not more.

Tasks included changing diapers, trips to the doctor, feeding time, bathing and staying at home from work to care for the child.

While most female professors spent the time off breastfeeding, the men used the free time to do extra research and concentrate on publishing academic papers.

The father and son team considered the reason for this, writing: ‘Our results suggest that one reason why female professors do more child care may be that they like it more than men do.

‘This conclusion is possible even though the vast majority of female respondents and a clear majority of male respondents believe that husbands and wives should share child care equally.

‘Gender ideology about care may be less important than feelings on these matters.’

Whatever the reason, the concern is that if this is still indeed true in 2012, paternity leave could be harmful for women as men are able to exploit the opportunity to advance their careers.

Though the researchers found that currently only 12 per cent of men actually take advantage of the available time off for fatherly duties, they warned: ‘If men should begin to take leave in much larger numbers, far from leveling the playing field, gender-neutral, post-birth leaves are likely to tilt the field further in favor of men.’
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Posted on March 1, 2012, in Health / Medicine, Science / Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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