Fathers Need Balance, Too

A colleague recently asked me for speakers who could participate in a panel on work/life balance in academia. After suggesting three names, I realized that only women came to mind. Men have families and personal commitments, too, so why shouldn’t they offer an opinion?

Researchers at UT Austin have published a small study that begins to answer that question. They interviewed 12 male faculty members at a research university. All the subjects had young children, and most expressed a preference for egalitarian parenting.

In a thematic analysis of the responses, the authors found that male faculty compartmentalize professional and personal lives and sacrifice their health to cope with the demands. Despite their professed views, many also allowed their wives to serve as primary caregivers to the children.

Finally, they concluded that men either do not know about university policies to benefit parents or are afraid to take advantage of them. While it is important to highlight opportunities for work relief and flexible schedules, it is just as crucial to educate leaders not to see these resources as intended only for women.

9 Responses to “Fathers Need Balance, Too”

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  3. Craig Noronha says:

    Good blog posting Peter……I might be biased as a father with little kids. I do have to say that being a father with little kids does not often mix well with academic medicine.

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  5. Francesca Seta says:

    This would be an interesting topic for discussion. I have a feeling that fathers in academia, despite the willingness of being caregivers, they can still give priority to work since, in most cases, wives are primary caregivers. Women, on the other hand, still do not have this choice.

  6. Judith Tsui says:

    I agree with the above comment. I think it is a very good sign that we are even discussing this issue, but the reality it that women still bear the brunt of child-rearing activities in our society. I suspect that most the men who are even thinking about this issue are in 2-career relationships? Regardless, having a university policy that allow fathers to take time off for family is a step in the right direction…

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