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Working Fathers: How does a man’s position at work affect his role as ‘dad’?

By OnePlusOne, 24 August 2015 Children, Employment, Fathers, New parents, Parenting, Work-life balance

Over the last 30 years, a key concern in fatherhood research has been how the workplace affects, and restricts, fathers’ engagement in childcare [1]. In this regard, a crucial aspect of the workplace is whether supervisors and the work environment support and tolerate care obligations [2] . This is, in turn, likely influenced by how the supervisors themselves balance work and family obligations.

This current study from Switzerland started with a “stress of higher status” hypothesis – this is the idea that the availability of flexitime means that there is less of a border between work and home – meaning that supervisors work longer hours and spend less time on childcare. This contrasts to the traditional view of flexitime which is seen to accommodate workers’ home lives.

The study found that fathers in leadership positions did spend significantly less time on childcare, partly due to the number of hours worked (which increased with the more subordinates a leader was responsible for). This relationship was moderated by flexitime, and it was found that in the presence of flexitime there is a substantial negative impact of work hours on childcare time.

This supports the idea that, for supervisors at least, flexitime blurs the work-family border. Fathers involved in leadership positions could, in principle, make the work environment more family-friendly. Therefore further studies on the behaviour of male supervisors are encouraged by this study as they could provide the acid-test for changes in the workplace.

[1] Russel and Hwang, 2004

[2] Allen, 2001

Read the full report here.

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