Like most societal challenges, the effort to promote work-family balance will only succeed when both men and women work together. A recent article in Time.com sets progress back by denigrating men as obsolete. Here’s my recent article at Good Men Project in which I explain why such unserious journalism undermines what should be a dual-gender effort for more equality, opportunity and choice for all (please click on the picture for the full article).
What do you think about arguments like “The End of Men”? Let’s discuss in the comments section.
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Over the past few weeks, articles have appeared in major mainstream media outlets reporting and commenting on work-family issues for dads. For someone who has been a fathers, work and family advocate for a long time, I couldn’t be happier. Here’s a sampling of recent articles, and my commentary on this trend.
While there is a danger that men, work and family will be reported on only as a short-term novelty, I am highly encouraged by all this media attention. I have always maintained that when more attention is paid to men’s work-family issues:
Men who struggle with these issues may realize they are not alone
Supervisors and business leaders may realize this is a serious business issue that requires some thought and attention
These issues become more normal and acceptable to talk about at home and in society- and most importantly- in workplaces across the country
The business case for considering men in work-family conversations and solutions becomes more evident
Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to examine the media’s response to Yahoo’s ban on telework. Much analysis, by “journalists” and experts alike, missed the point entirely. I explain where so many went wrong.
I promise this is the last I’ll write about this issue unless there’s some new development
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban working from home for all employees was rightfully a hotly debated topic. Considering the steady rise of telework over the past decade, the increased attention to work-family issues, and Mayer’s high visibility as the first female CEO of her generation (who was hired while pregnant and recently build a posh nursery for her baby in her CEO suite), you had all the ingredients for a big story.
Recent surveys show that more dads are stepping up at home, while maintaining their commitments to their careers. In many ways, this marks progress, but also presents challenges to involved working dads. How can we better handle these challenges?
A slideshow of Pew’s Findings: Men Are Committed to Both Work and Family
In some ways, it is the converse of what working women have been facing for some time. Men are expanding their commitment to home, while facing pressure to maintain their time and commitment in the workplace- in short, men face many of the same challenges as women in terms of “having it all”.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” also contains lessons for working dads
I admit I haven’t yet read Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”- it was just released today. But I have read a lot of what has been written about the book, and think that, while Sandberg’s book was obviously written for working women, it contains lessons for dads as well. I’ll read and review the book as soon as I can (if it is as good as her TED talk, it will be excellent), but until then, here’s what I’ve picked up so far from the media coverage:
Obamacare may be an improvement, but it missed a chance to sever access to health insurance from employment- to the detriment of working dads.
Part of me is afraid to even broach the topic of Health Care Reform, as it is politically radioactive (you should have seen the facebook fights my otherwise reasonable friends had over this the past few years). I don’t wish to rehash the debate, or devolve into cries of tyrannical government takeover vs. Dickensian dystopia. Further, the topic is far too complex to cover in a single blog post.
No matter what you think about Obamacare (I happen to think it is a small step in the right direction, your mileage may vary), it missed an opportunity to fix what, IMNSHO, is the greatest flaw in the US Healthcare system- the fact that, for most Americans, health insurance is tied to their employer.
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.
Dads are men. Dads are involved at home. Marketers, catch on or you are missing a big opportunity.
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)
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.
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
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.
I’ll be back on Friday with a note of gratitude, a Chrsitmas post, and some FWF milestones! In the meantime, here’s an awesome guest piece by my good friend, Neil.
A guest post by Neil Cohen. This article originally appeared at Neil’s blog, Man on Third, which I highly recommend.
During the Thanksgiving break, I took my son Alex to a place called CuriOdyssey, which is a small “children’s museum”/zoo type of place with a number of animal exhibits – think a bobcat, not a lion. We were walking around and came upon a volunteer sitting on a bench. I noticed that he was cradling a small rat in his arms (the staff at this place often bring out animals for the kids to see up close). I half jokingly (mostly to myself) said “Gross!” and the following exchange occurred:
Time Suck– (n) Something that’s engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children. (from UrbanDictionary.com)
Don’t let this take over your weekend!
Perhaps the greatest challenge we all face in being both a good provider an a present father is that there never seems to be enough time in a day. Our jobs and careers demand our time; our kids need a lot of us, too. It is really hard to find the time.
It is also hard to find the energy necessary to be a great dad. Stress, time demands, etc all seem to rob us of energy, and prevent us from being relaxed and present.