Fathers at Work: Challenges and Stereotypes Facing Fathers with Caregiving Responsibilities in Employment
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This study explores how caregiving fathers are perceived in contemporary employment to establish if this contributes to an understanding of the dominance of fathers in the role of ‘breadwinner’. Much existing research in this area is based in the US, largely utilising students as participants, and has limited applicability to contemporary UK fatherhood. This study employs a mixed methods design underpinned by a social constructivist standpoint, with managers and working parents as participants. Understanding regarding the perceptions of caregiving fathers is sought through exploring how such fathers are rated when they apply for work utilising online vignettes, vignette based focus groups and semi-structured interviews. This study aims to contribute to understanding and knowledge in this hitherto largely underdeveloped area of research.
Data indicates that caregiving fathers applying for working arrangements that facilitate an active role in caregiving were rated the lowest when compared to a part-time mother applicant and/or a full-time father applicant. Data from interviews and focus groups provided insights that caregiving fathers face a number of challenges in the workplace, identified under three main themes; ‘Think Child – Think Mum’, ‘Fathers Obtain less Workplace Support than Mothers for Caregiving’ and the ‘Social Mistreatment of Caregiving Fathers’. It is suggested that these three themes help explain the lower ratings in the online vignette and informs an understanding for the continued dominance of fathers in the role of breadwinner.