The Changing Face of the “Working Father”

16 Jun

The world is changing. In 1970, less than 10% of all professional degrees & PhDs were awarded to women.  Today, that number is nearly 50%.  And 60% of all master’s degrees.

For the first time ever, women make up 50% of the workforce.  And the recession hit men harder – 70% of the 8 million jobs lost. Of the 15 jobs anticipated to have the greatest growth rate by 2020, 12 are female-dominated.

In 1975, 45% of homes were traditional (one parent worked outside of the home, one parent worked inside caring for children).  That number has declined to 20%.  Historically, women have worked the “second shift” (working outside the home, then being primarily responsible for the household in the evening) but that is beginning to change.

Fathers today are compared to their own fathers. “He does SO much more than his father did around the house!”  When really, maybe they should be compared to their spouses.  As women continue to gain authority and credibility in the workplace, the role of raising children is being shifted more and more towards a shared burden.  Companies are struggling to grasp whether maternity leave is enough or whether parental leave should be considered.  And is it okay to view a woman leaving the office early to pick up children or attend a soccer game as a “great mother with a work/life balance” but to view her male counterpart, doing the exact same thing, as “not putting the hours in to prove his commitment to work.”

It is not just women, but also men, who are struggling to balance careers and parenthood.  Men are beginning to realize how much work is involved in raising a child and how other passions and personal activities must be sacrificed.  Men are beginning to see their roles as not just breadwinner but also involved, a role model, an encourager, providing emotional support.

Men on Becoming Fathers

I had no understanding of the emotional bond genetically that occurs when you have a baby.

It hit me in a way that nothing else ever has…It was just absolutely overwhelming in a positive way.

It was the first time in my life I ever cried from happiness…it was a very new sensation for me to be that happy.

You feel kind of a responsibility drops like a piano in a carton on your shoulders. It’s frightening. It’s exciting but scary. Mostly scary right at first.

You find yourself having to actually think about things you had done automatically for years. And you ask yourself  “do I want my children emulating this?”

So much of this study is positive. Some is negative.  The number of hours a father spends with his children on a normal work day has DOUBLED in the past 30 years.  But even doubled, that number is only 3 hours a day. 

We use the term “working mothers” but never “working fathers.”  “We won’t accept disparaging comments about women’s abilities in the workplace. But why do we think it is acceptable to make similarly disparaging comments regarding the incomptence of men as care takers and parents, when for so many men this is becoming one of the central roles of thier lives?”

There’s a lot to think about. For me as I work at promoting a healthy work/life balance for my employees.  And for society as we try to determine what’s best for our families – and how both mothers and fathers will balance the ever-increasing demands on their time.

All stats are taken from The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood within a Career Context, Boston College 2010

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