Paternal supervisor gatekeeping: How supervising fathers hinder other fathers at work in their uptake of flexible work arrangements
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This study explores the role that supervisors play in the low uptake of Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) among fathers in France. We draw on 28 interviews with fathers who had requested access to FWA and reported on the reaction of their supervisors. These supervisors were all fathers themselves and had previously benefitted from such arrangements themselves, but did not grant such policies to other fathers. To understand these unexpected findings, we conducted an additional 16 interviews with supervising fathers in organizations who had previously enjoyed similar FWA. The findings show that supervising fathers can act as barriers to other fathers in their organizations who try to push for more gender equality. We identified four ways in which supervisors tend to dissuade fathers from accessing policies to which they are entitled: gender-role confirming discourses; career threats; practical reasons as a justification; and a lack of paternal workplace support. The findings highlight the role of men (in this case, supervising fathers) in the lack of increasing gender equality at work. By showing that fathers can function as ‘paternal supervisor gatekeepers’ for other fathers in their organizations, we open up new fruitful ways for studying gender equality in organizations.
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