Why aren't more new dads taking parental leave?
We can all agree that when a couple has a baby, both parents need to take time off to care of the little bundle of joy. So why does a Deloitte survey report that when it comes to new fathers, an alarming amount aren’t taking parental leave, even when it’s available at their company? The reason is kind of depressing because it’s not unfounded: new dads are worried taking parental leave time would negatively affect their careers.
Specifically, of the 1,000 men polled, over a third believed using their company’s leave would “jeopardize their position,” over half were worried it would seem like they weren’t committed to their job, and 41% thought they’d lose out on opportunities. Yikes.
According to Bloomberg, these beliefs are probably due to the fact that women often suffer those very consequences while taking maternity leave. After all, we’ve all heard about the glass ceiling for women in the workplace and a lot of it stems from fear that motherhood — which, let’s remember, is not a choice made by everyone — makes women less committed.
Interestingly, research in The New York Times has found that men are, in fact, not penalized like women are for taking time off to care for young’uns. For some reason, men’s earnings correlate to the number of children, increasing 6% for every child they have. This is likely because they don’t take the much-needed time off, and because of the perception of fathers (responsible) is better than the perception of mothers (distracted). It’s referred to as a “fatherhood bonus.”
Parental leave policies are designed to stop this from happening, but it doesn’t work if both parties aren’t taking advantage of it. Although, Bloomberg reports that things are slowly changing — at least in California, where male parental leave is up 17% from five years ago.
The only way to increase this trend nationwide is to remove the stigma and to quell any worries about the disadvantages of parental leave by making sure they don’t happen for women, so men have nothing to fear. The bottom line is this: whatever your gender, everyone deserves time to nurture their newborns (and rest themselves!) and they should be able to do so without sacrificing their careers.