Despite a gradual increase in fathers’ time with children and its positive implications for families, mothers continue to bear primary responsibility for childcare in the UK. This gender inequality in the home both disadvantages women in the workplace and denies men the opportunity to develop nurturing and involved relationships with their children.
The project titled ‘Caregiving Dads, Breadwinning Mums: Transforming Gender in Work and Childcare?’ aims to identify the barriers to greater gender equality by exploring parenting arrangements in which childcare responsibilities are shared equally or assumed primarily by the mother/father. It is being conducted at the University of Lincoln – see the Project Team page to find out more about who we are. The project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
Quantitative data were collected from a nationally representative sample of 5605 parents of young children with either traditional family roles (male breadwinner, female caregiver), reversed roles (male caregiver, female breadwinner), or equal sharing arrangements. A novel aspect of the research is the consideration of the socio-psychological processes that may contribute to a decision to adopt non-gendered arrangements, including the respondents’ identities, ideologies, and implicit gender attitudes.
In addition to the quantitative data, subsamples from each of the three study groups were recruited for an in-depth face-to-face interview, with the partners interviewed separately. Interviews have more fully uncovered the complex dynamics involved in the construction and maintenance of different work and care arrangements, and further explored the facilitators and barriers to downplaying gender-based considerations in parenting arrangements.
The findings will inform discussions on better ways to support fathers’ caring responsibilities through workplace policies and legislation around paternity and shared parental leave. Ultimately, this project seeks to identify the means to create more balanced, fulfilling lives for both men and women.
The project is based in the College of Social Science at the University of Lincoln between September 2019 to August 2022.
The project has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit www.nuffieldfoundation.org