Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer and a Big Step Backwards

Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! banned working from home. Why it was the wrong decision, and how it sends a dangerous signal.

Who'da thought she'd be the one setting back the cause of working parents?
Who’da thought she’d be the one setting back the cause of working parents?

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I’ve long believed that businesses would become much more flexible and progressive when it comes to work-family issues when those of my generation rose to positions of leadership.

Current 40-somethings are the first to grow up with dual-career couples for parents, while mostly being in dual-career marriages in their own lives. This generation of leaders is also more diverse and gender-equal than any that came before. This perspective, I’ve always thought, would finally lead to widespread understanding that workplace flexibility is not just a nice thing to do, but is good business- keeping step with our changing world improves a company’s ability to better attract and retain top talent.

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Why Valentine’s Day is Especially Important for Dads

Hey Busy Dads! It is important to set aside a day to emphasize romance with your wife and role model positive expressions of love to your kids.

Valentine's Day reminds us of the importance of romance...
Valentine’s Day reminds us to appreciate this relationship…
and to nurture this relationship
while nurturing this relationship

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the wives, moms and women out there. After all, we wouldn’t be dads without you. (I especially want to recognize my amazing wife, Amy, who brings me so much joy and with whom I am deliriously happy to share my life).

I’ve heard men, especially those who’ve been with their wives for a long time, criticize Valentine’s Day for a range of reasons:

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Yes, Dads Do Laundry. Tide’s NFL TV Ads Prove It.

Dads are men. Dads are involved at home. Marketers, catch on or you are missing a big opportunity.  

Tide’s recent (non-miracle stain) ad campaign (see videos below) targets fathers because, you know, men actually shop and do housework…

First a Quick Aside- After I had written this article, Tide went ahead with another brilliant spot for its Super Bowl Commercial: Joe Montana Miracle Stain!  (although the ad is not relevant to my article, it was a great ad, and it helps my SEO to include it)

Ok. Now on to the article!

Men do laundry

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Why Women (nope) Men (nope) NO ONE Can “Have It All”

It is not surprising to me that “women still can’t have it all” and “men can’t have it all either.” The simple fact is  Women Men No One Can Have It All

Over the past generation or so, we’ve seen a huge shift in expectations and opportunities for women. While much progress has been made (and we are all the better for it), women still face stereotypes and discrimination as they “try to have it all” and move beyond traditional role expectations.

The current difficulties for women in the workplace and women trying to balance work and family were covered brilliantly by Anne-Marie Slaughter in a recent Atlantic cover story (and far more stupidly superficially by Ann Friedman in NY Magazine). Slaughter’s article deservedly received accolades and huge amounts of media attention, and I know I’m very late to the party in commenting on it. (And to her immense credit, Slaughter also wrote a great follow-up piece on men, work and family)

In short, Slaughter makes the case that women still face significant obstacles and difficulties as they try to remain heavily involved in their traditional roles (parenting, caretaking) while also expanding their involvement in traditional men’s roles (providing, working outside the home).

There is increasing evidence that the converse is increasingly true for men. Men now face significant obstacles and difficulties as they try to remain heavily involved in their traditional roles (providing, working outside the home) while also expanding their involvement in traditional women’s roles (parenting, caretaking).

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Fathers, Work and Family Issues in Super Bowl Ads: Expedia’s “Find Your Perspective” Ad

I love this commercial!
(sorry, I can’t embed video from this site, please follow the link)

The Disney teacup ride helped the dad in this great Expedia commercial think through his work-family priorities.

Expedia just started airing a fantastic ad, focusing on a father who was clearly struggling with work-family balance, and who (of course with the help of Expedia- it is an ad, after all) was able to have a moment of joy and clarity (on the Disney teacup ride) to help him realize his work-family priorities.

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Bushmaster and the Cult of Masculinity

A few people have asked me whether I, as a dad of a seven-year old, was going to write anything about the tragedy in Connecticut.  I replied that I had no expertise or anything unique or helpful to say- I’m just as pissed and sad as everyone else, and who wants to read a story about how I embarrassed Nick by hugging him for too long as he got off the school bus.

So, I’m not writing about Newtown. But I did come across this advertisement for the gun used in the mass murder, and it got me thinking about the signals our society still gives men about who they are expected to be.

What do messages like this demonstrate about how we view “men” in our society?

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These Chores Don’t Count? On Men’s Hidden “Second Shift”

Updated 3/25/13

The stereotype: “Housework is the only activity at which men are allowed to be consistently inept because they are thought to be so competent at everything else” – Letty Cottin Pogrebin

The reality: “The fellow who owns his own home is always coming out of a hardware store” -Kin Hubbard

Jobs using these do not get counted in major studies of housework (photo used under Creative Commons agreement)

For decades, The Bureau of Labor Statistics has conducted the Americans Time Use Survey (ATUS) and the University of Michigan has conducted the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Through surveys and time use diaries, these studies track employment patterns, as well as how Americans divide their time among their daily work and non-work tasks.

No surprise- these projects have consistently found that men spend more time at work than women, and women spend more time on housework than men. These gaps, which were once huge, have significantly narrowed over the decades, until stabilizing in about the late 1990s.

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A Veteran’s Day Salute to the Fathers who Sacrifice the Most for their Work

Take a quick look, and you’ll realize how  much military dads and their families sacrifice for us. Remember, military dads may be half a world away, but they are not only fathers, they are true heroes- not just to their kids, but to all of us. We should all do more to support our … Read more

My Review of NBC’s “Guys with Kids” (or this is the best our culture can do? Really?)

Gratuitous Father-Son Picture

“Dad as doofus” humor is the backbone of many TV sitcoms, as has been since the very beginning.  Unfortunately, the “batting average” for this easy type of humor is not very high.  There are a few home runs (Homer Simpson or Michael Bluth), some clean singles (Ray Romano, Bill Cosby, Tim Allen, et al), and lots of strikeouts (George Lopez or anyone on “Yes Dear”).  And I am not the first to speak out against the lazy TV stereotype of the clueless dad.Very few shows have taken a nuanced look into modern fatherhood and the work and fatherhood conundrum most of us face- “Up all Night” and “Parenthood” are two current shows that do this (I’m sure there are more, but, who has time for lots of TV?).  Considering all we committed, working dads are dealing with, the time seems right for a smart, incisive comedy commenting on our issues.

“Guys with Kids” is not that show. 

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New York Times Op-Ed Piece Commentary: Susan Lambert is Right, But This is Not Only a Women’s Issue

I generally agree with the sentiment in this excellent NYT op-ed piece by Susan Lambert of the University of Chicago from last Thursday (Sept 20, 2012).  In it she argues that women on the low end of the wage scale are hurt by unpredictable and inconsistent work schedules (e.g., waitress shifts) and women on the high end of the wage scale are hurt by increasingly long time demands.

However, I find it limiting that her piece is written as if these are challenges unique to working women.  It seems to me that men face many of the same problems with their work schedules and demands, and that they would also benefit from the proposed reforms Dr. Lambert argues for. 

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I Never Thought I’d Want to Hug Ben Roethlisberger…

Big Ben stated he would miss a game if it conflicted with the birth of his child. Why this is an important, visible step that can help dads in less glamorous professions.

Ben Roethlisberger says he'll miss a game for the birth of his child
Ben Roethlisberger says he’ll miss a game for the birth of his child

After all, the Pittsburgh Steelers star quarterback hasn’t always been the nicest of guys, especially to women.  And, of course I am still quite pissed about the 2010 AFC Championship Game (My wife’s quote after that crushing loss: “If I treated you as badly as the Jets treat you, you would have left me by now”).  (EDIT- I’m not so happy about this week’s game either!!!)

But, a few weeks ago, Big Ben made this statement:

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