Equal Parenting And Equal Work

Posted by | October 26, 2010 14:11 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

As a father who does a fair share of child care, I spend time thinking about gender expectations at home and in the workplace.  While women have made tremendous gains in the workforce, they are bumping up against the limits of those gainss.  And those limits largely come from the fact that women still do more work at home than men.  Lisa Belkin nails the problem:

Empowering American women can no longer focus only on women — on leveling playing fields or offering mothers “on-ramps” and “offramps” or shattering ceilings one at a time. All those efforts must continue, yes. But none will succeed if we don’t change our expectations for men. Or, more accurately, men’s expectations for themselves.

Belkin’s article focuses on policies that would make it more attractive for men to take paternity leave and cites the success in Sweden of such a policy.  Policies are good but I’m not convinced that it would be enough.  There are some deeply entrenched cultural norms at work here.  I won’t be convinced that we are the road to equality until I am out with my kids and don’t get comments like “Babysitting today?” or “Maybe he’s upset because he’s hungry.” always from women who assume I can’t know enough about my kids to adequately care for them.  Policies can help change these norms but there is going to have to be heavy lifting from both genders in the media and in every day interactions to reinforce the idea that caring for kids (and taking care of the home) is a job for both genders.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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