Paternity Leave May Have Unintended Consequences

The January 2012 issue of the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology reports that fathers who take paternity leave avoid baby care and use the time to advance their professional careers, according to research done at the University of Virginia and the University of Connecticut.

In a survey of 109 male university professors who took paternity leave, only three of them spent any significant time caring for their infants by engaging in diaper changing, doctor visits, feeding and bathing their new-born child and remaining at their home to care for them.

Not surprisingly, 70 of 73 female professors who took maternity leave were found to have spent at least 50% of their maternity leave time on child care duties for their new infants. The survey found they spent considerable time breastfeeding their babies.

Fathers, on the other hand, spent their leave time doing extra research and focusing on publishing academic papers. Drs. Steven Rhoads and Christopher Rhoads opined that their research results indicate that despite lip service to equal parenting, they believe fathers do not enjoy parenting as much as their female counterparts.

They also suggest that while currently only 12% of fathers who are eligible for paternity leave take advantage of it, if the numbers increase, paternity leave could be prejudicial to women in the workforce as men exploit their extra time off to advance their careers, leaving women to dedicate their leave to the purpose it was intended for.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang