October 22, 2015
It has been an interesting week observing working dads in the news.
We've witnessed Daniel Murphy, Mets playoff superstar, demonstrate that taking a few days of paternity leave had no negative impact on his ability to perform on the ballfield. In fact, he has set a new record for consecutive playoff games with home runs and was named National League Championship Series MVP. Being clear about his commitment to his family has not diminished his ability to excel at his job.
June 17, 2015
Getty Images, the large American stock photo agency based in Seattle which supplies images for the media, creative professionals, and businesses, decided it was "time to give masculinity a makeover" according to Kristina Monllos's article which appeared in ADWEEK on June 11th. Getty Images has curated a new collection of images that redefine traditional representations of masculinity.
August 2, 2013
It's time to move away from idolizing the steroid-abusing "superstars" and shift our admiration to those who are demonstrating what it really means to be a man. Let's look at a new superstar as one who exemplifies some old-fashioned values: fair play, integrity, and commitment to family, as being far more important than winning at all costs.
April 4, 2013
Over the past year, the work-family discussion has been injected with a massive shot of adrenaline. Much of the resurgence of interest has resulted from the advice and actions of some highly accomplished women. Their overtures and the public reaction to them has enabled all to clearly see that those...
January 28, 2013
Last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced their intention to lift the military ban on women in combat. To say this is a dramatic step would be a significant understatement. General Dempsey catalyzed this breakthrough decision...
October 8, 2012
In 2009, the staff of the Boston College Center for Work & Family decided it was time to significantly increase our focus on men and work-family issues. At the time, the work-family field -- researchers, practitioners, and consumers -- was predominantly women and virtually all discussion was focused on women's...
December 20, 2011
This week Jennifer Fraone, Marketing and Communications Director for the Boston College Center for Work & Family, appeared on one of Boston's local television stations to do our monthly "Work-Life Wednesday" segment. We've been doing these regular pieces for nearly a year and it has been a great...
November 1, 2011
In honor of National Work and Family Month, I was asked to write some thoughts on the subject. Many excellent articles by our field's leading thinkers have been appearing that explore policies and programs that could or should be implemented to advance the work and family...
June 24, 2011
Last week, the Boston College Center for Work & Family released the results of a study we completed on nearly 1,000 American fathers. "The New Dad: Caring, Committed and Conflicted" explores the experience of mainly "white collar" fathers who work in large American companies. The results present a...
June 16, 2010
In homes across America, fathers are launching a quiet revolution. Catalyzed by the women's movement, an enormous demographic shift in higher education (women now earn 57% of college degrees), and a brutal recession in which men experienced more than 70% of the 8 million job losses in the US economy,...
June 3, 2013
It seems like there’s always a new headline about reconciling work and life: challenging women to “lean in,” heralding the decline of workplace flexibility (not the case) or pronouncing the “end of men” (which, to paraphrase Mark Twain, has also been greatly exaggerated). These stories are so electrifying because the work-family conversation is central to the lives of most working Americans. But the headlines can be misleading.
The latest grabber came from a Pew study that found women are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households with children. Clearly, there is good news embedded in this story. For example, women now earn 60 percent of university degrees in the U.S. And these young, college-educated women in urban areas are now beginning their careers with higher starting salaries than their male counterparts. This is a cause for celebration for those of us interested in greater gender equality.
In spite of their longer paid working hours, fathers have doubled their time doing domestic tasks and tripled their time on child care over the last generation.
And indeed, as the Pew study rolled out in newspapers, on television and in social media, the main reaction was to celebrate it as a sign of women’s greater economic empowerment. But the dirty little secret is that in 5 out of 8 of these households, the woman was not just the primary breadwinner; she was the only breadwinner, without a partner.
That’s not the “end of men,” and it’s certainly not an economic victory for American women. When unmarried women are the breadwinners, which is now the case in 25 percent of U.S. households, the family’s average income is only $23,000 a year. More than half of the children in these homes are living in poverty. Glossing over this fact ignores the importance of having fathers in the picture. The female breadwinners who are making more than their working husbands are in a whole different income bracket; their median household income is $80,000.
The role of men is evolving even in the three-quarters of dual-parent families in which fathers are the primary breadwinners. They are far less likely these days to be just an economic contributor. Our research (with mainly college-educated, white-collar fathers) shows that today’s fathers spend an average of 2.5 hours per workday with their children and more than 3 out of 4 would like to have even more time with their offspring. Those fathers reported that being a breadwinner was less important to them than providing their children with love and emotional support, being present and involved in their child’s life, or being a good mentor and role model. In spite of their longer paid working hours, fathers have doubled their time doing domestic tasks and tripled their time on child care over the last generation, although they do still do significantly less than their spouses in both categories. The number of at-home dads has also doubled in the last decade.
Families are better off in virtually every way when there are two parents present. When it comes to income to support family well-being, it matters less whether the woman earns more than her husband or vice versa. This shouldn’t be a competition pitting women against men. The progress that really matters is whether all American families are doing better. When we once again see the trend toward greater prosperity for all American families, then we will have a cause for celebration – and a truly meaningful headline.
This content was originally posted to the New York Times.