Fatherly Stuff: The Road to Gender Equality

Mar 17, 2015

The Road to Gender Equality



When you first think of  solutions for "women's equality", what are the things the pop into your head? Equal pay? Breaking glass ceilings? Ronda Rousey?

Whatever you were thinking, I'm willing to bet my grandpa's jazz vinyl collection that paternity leave was not very high on your list. According to a recent NPR article however, providing paid leave to men in order for them to stay home with their children just might be another tool for forward progression. The article states:
Granting paid days off to a new dad sets a pattern for both parents to share the caring from the get-go and boosts chances for women to stay in the work force because they're not the sole caregivers.

Which totally makes sense. Looking back to the births of both my children, I remember being told by my respective supervisors (different jobs, with no paternity leave) to "take all the time I need". But reading in between the lines, there was an unspoken expectation that I should be back at work after only a few days, which in retrospect was not nearly enough time. Those early stages of life are critical for bonding and also for establishing the precedent for how the co-parenting duties will be handled between mother and father:

"when men fail to become active co-parents in the first few months of the child's life, it sets up a pattern that is difficult to change."
 The United States certainly seems to be behind on the trend. Currently, there are 92 countries that offer paid maternity leave and 96 which offer paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Of the remaining 9 countries that have neither, the US is the only developed country. While the US does have FMLA that is available, it is not paid and in the scope of baby bonding, only moms can take advantage of it.

We're basically that awkward dude at the wedding who sits arm-crossed at the table while all of his friends are on the dance floor, all because he thinks he's too cool to do the funky chicken. Come on, America. Let's not be "that guy". We're definitely not too cool for the funky chicken. So get your ass up out of that seat and get down with the rest of your buddies.

 In the end,  establishing (and normalizing) paid paternity (and maternity) leave in the US will encourage men to take on the primary caregiver role. This will in turn afford more women the freedom to pursue personal/professional goals without guilt or social pressure. So, you can say that the road to gender equality is paved with diapers, bottles, and baby wipes.

You can read the full article HERE