HomeLearning CenterAre Working Fathers Getting ‘Daddy Tracked’?

Are Working Fathers Getting ‘Daddy Tracked’?

Originally published by Paul Sullivan for Fortune

“Can’t your wife do that?”

“I always put my career first, and my family turned out fine.”

“Must be nice to go home early.” (Said to a father after he said he was leaving to take care of his sick child.)

These are all real statements that managers have said to men seeking to be more present in their families’ lives.

Today, as different ways of working collide, men who want to be full parents are facing the type of discrimination at work that working moms have dealt with for decades. Some men worry these comments could be a sign they are “getting daddy tracked,” while others reject the phrases as microaggressions.

Whatever you call them, such hurtful, unnecessary statements demotivate workers or inspire them to find another job. While often the utterances of older, male bosses, these jibes may also come from women leaders who waded through waves of misogyny to advance in their careers.

Men want to spend more time with their families

“I actually started logging these comments because of how frequently I heard them after our daughter was born,” said Eric Arthrell, who worked as a consultant for Deloitte and was the lead author on the firm’s The Design of Everyday Men Report, which examined the ways men are reacting to the end of traditional gender norms. He now runs a company that makes tissues from bamboo.

Eric remembers one manager, a woman, cutting him down for leaving at five p.m. to take the train home to his newborn and wife who was on maternity leave. “You’re just not a driver personality,” he recalled her saying.

Dozens of studies have shown the benefits to children when fathers take parental leave to bond with them. The extra time also helps the broader family figure out one of life’s great transitions: taking care of a small child.

There is also a bottom-line benefit to employers. Companies that have adopted more equitable leave policies have found that people quit their jobs less, feel more engaged and connected to their managers, and are generally grateful for a benefit that has a tangible use, Brad Harrington, the executive director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family at the Carroll School of Management, told me.

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