WAPPP Co-Director Hannah Riley Bowles co-edits a novel multidisciplinary perspective on the importance of fatherhood for families and gender equality.
Women have made tremendous gains in the workforce in the past fifty years, but this gender revolution has stalled. The glass ceiling, the gender pay gap, and the demands of childrearing remain stubborn obstacles to advancement and earnings, particularly for mothers of young children. On the flip side, the same stereotypes that narrowly define women as “caretakers” also constrain men as “breadwinners”—and leave both fathers and mothers struggling to balance their home and work lives. While men’s engagement in fatherhood is on the rise, workplace norms, government policies, and healthcare systems still treat women as the “primary parent,” boxing men out of roles that could enrich the lives of their families and themselves and the pursuit of gender equality.
Chapters in the section of Health & Wellbeing elevate the significance of fatherhood engagement for infant health, child development, maternal welfare, and men’s own health and adult development. They also demonstrate important gaps in the scientific and clinical understanding of fathers’ influence on perinatal health and early child development.
Based on a cross-national comparative review, chapters in the section on Social Policy illuminate the design features of family leave policies that increase fathers’ participation in infant caregiving. These chapters include a historical case study of Norway’s pathbreaking development of the “Father’s Quota” of parental leave, and exploration of socio-economic factors, as well as cultural norms, that influence men’s participation in parental leave in South Korea, Spain, and the United States.
The sections on Work & Organizations invite readers into conversations with fathers from France, Australia, and South Africa, including a range of socio-economic perspectives from white collar to blue-collar to the precariously employed. These chapters also include reviews of research and analyses of data from eight countries across the Americas on the significance of workplace resistance or support on men’s capacity for fatherhood engagement.
The Conclusion integrates these cross-disciplinary insights from the three streams to develop three working principles for promoting gender equity in parenting and discusses how they could be applied to social policy, healthcare, and organizational work.