Engaged Fatherhood for Men, Families and Gender Equality: Healthcare, Social Policy, and Work Perspectives

November 15, 2021
Engaged Fatherhood Book Cover


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.


Together, the expert contributors to Engaged Fatherhood for Men, Families and Gender Equality provide compelling evidence that when fathers are welcomed and enabled to engage with their children’s lives, everyone wins. 


Download your copy of Engaged Fatherhood today


“Engaged Fatherhood for Men, Families and Gender Equality is a singular achievement in the research of fathers’ crucial role in families that thrive and societies that prosper. This volume will be a central resource for researchers and family advocates for decades to come.”
--Arthur C. Brooks, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, and New York Times bestselling author
“The other half of parenthood is finally getting the attention it deserves. Engaged Fatherhood is good for many reasons—healthier children, greater gender equality, and informed readers. Get it free and assign it to your students. The world will be a better place.”
--Claudia Goldin, author of Career & Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey toward Equity Henry Lee Professor of Economics, Harvard University
“Contemporary fathers are rewriting the playbook for children’s thriving. They are designing new roles for themselves as engaged parents at home and as mindful contributors in the workplace. Until this volume, social policy practitioners and empirical researchers were struggling to keep up. This book is a compendium of research and practice-based knowledge on the state of fatherhood today. It thoughtfully aggregates scholarship on the cultural and psychological experience of fatherhood and deftly invites the reader to consider the diversity of ways that those who identify as men understand what it means to nurture and raise children in the context of work and organizations.”
--Kim Leary, Vice President of the Urban Institute and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health
“This book is a must-read for anyone, but especially organizational leaders and policymakers, interested in promoting engaged fatherhood and gender equity. It brings together in one volume the latest research, best practices, and policy recommendations from leading fatherhood experts in social policy, work and organizations, and health fields. Its three working principles—create individual, non-transferable parenting resources explicitly for fathers; reduce economic conflicts between breadwinning and caregiving; and build supportive social networks for engaged fatherhood—provide an important framework for reimagining and transforming work, health, and social policy to reduce barriers to engaged fatherhood - for men, for families, and for gender equity.”
--Michael C. Lu, Dean, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Former Director, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
“This book takes a much-needed interdisciplinary approach to discuss engaged fatherhood through the lenses of health, policy, and work. The breadth of this approach makes this book suitable for a broad, diverse audience, as readers will be struck by the consistency across disciplines and country contexts regarding the benefits of father involvement and the need to make directed efforts to facilitate greater father engagement. I especially love that each chapter includes specific policy recommendations, as these collectively provide a useful toolkit that identifies and summarizes the steps needed to work towards greater gender equity in parenting.”
--Richard Petts, Professor of Sociology, Ball State University and co-editor of Community, Work & Family

About the Editors


Marc Grau-Grau is a Research Fellow at the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), a researcher and coordinator of the Joaquim Molins Figueras Childcare and Family Policies Chair, and an Assistant Professor of Social and Family Policies at the Faculty of Education at the International University of Catalonia (UIC). Grau has a Ph.D. in Social Policy from the University of Edinburgh, a Master in Political and Social Sciences from University Pompeu Fabra, and a degree in Business Administration from ESADE Business School. His research appears in academic publications such as Organization, Journal of Family Issues, or Journal of Business Research. His research focuses on fatherhood involvement, work-family balance, and flexible policies.


Mireia Las Heras is a Professor in the Managing People in Organizations Department at IESE Business School, where she is the Director of the International Center for Work and Family (ICWF). An industrial engineer by training, she holds an MBA from IESE Business School and a Doctorate in Business Administration from Boston University. She has widely published research on work-family issues around the world in journals such as Human Relations, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management Journal, and Journal of Business Research. She has coedited five research books. Active on social media, including Linkedin, she showcases her passion for drawing and photography on Instagram and has her own podcast (in Spanish), “Excelencia y Trabajo.”


Hannah Riley Bowles is the Roy E. Larsen Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Hannah co-directs the HKS Center for Public Leadership and HKS Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP). She is a leading expert on gender in negotiation, particularly the role of negotiation in career and leadership advancement and the management of work-family conflict. Her research appears in academic publications, such as the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Organization Science, and Psychological Science. Her award-winning research and teaching has been profiled in major news media, such as ABC News, the Financial Times, National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.