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“Daddy Leave” and gender equality at home & work

Last summer (July 2011), I was asked by the New York Times to participate in a debate about women and work in Europe. I chose to address the issue of policy changes that work towards gender change and how men’s parental leave is a critical part of this issue.

Below is the first part of my response; for the full piece, click here.

The quest for greater gender equality in paid work and care work requires multiple strategies that involve both women and men. The International Herald Tribune article about women in the German work force dealt mainly with the issue of women and work. Yet, the challenges that men face, both as workers and as caregivers, must also be addressed.

One way of addressing this is to look to countries like Sweden, Norway and Canada for lessons on how parental leave policies have been used to encourage changing gender relations around paid work and care work. These are policies that recognize and build on the constant interplay between gender equality and gender differences.

In Sweden and Norway, there has been a significant shift away from the “male breadwinner/ female caregiver model” of work and family. This occurred partly through respecting a long-standing practice of long maternity leaves for women combined with affordable, accessible and high-quality child care; to this, they added parental leave policies designed to encourage men to be involved in early child care. One of the rationales for the latter was that getting fathers into the home would help to disrupt a deeply rooted pattern and social norm of women as primary care-giving experts and men as main breadwinners.

Click here to read more and to join in the debate!


Between Two F-Words: Fathering and Feminism

More Together

Ten years ago when I was listening to, and writing about, the stories of stay-at-home dads and single fathers, many men asked me why it was that I – a woman, a feminist – was so interested in the lives of fathers. I was continually asked: Don’t feminists typically study mothers? What does feminism have to do with fatherhood? Isn’t feminism about women, after all?

Read the full article here.

*Image: “More Together” courtesy of Christine Martell


New Research and Writing on Fathering and/or Parental Leave

Look for two special issues of the journal Fathering on Men, Work and Parenting (co-edited by Linda Haas and Margaret O’Brien) in November 2010 and May 2011.

Other recent publications on comparative perspectives on fatherhood, families and comparative social policies:

Fathering Across Diversity and adversity: international perspectives and policy interventions



The Politics of Parental Leave Policies




The Globe and Mail recently published an excellent series on Work-Life Balance for Mothers and Fathers and the importance of fathers take up of parental leave.