Dads Want the Same Things as Moms but Don’t Take as Much Time Off

November 19, 2019 (New York, NY)—The Working Mother Research Institute unveiled results from its new study, What Working Dads Really Want, today. This new research explores what working dads want and need from their employers in order to succeed both at work and at home. The research reveals that dads do want the same things as moms: longer paid parental leave, more flexibility at work, supportive managers, and opportunities to advance. However, dads are more afraid of perceptions about taking time off and, therefore, more nervous about using family-friendly benefits.

“Fathers are speaking out about wanting gender-neutral parental leave, in addition to flexible work schedules, and employers are paying attention,” said Subha V. Barry, president of Working Mother Media. “We now need to encourage dads to actually take the time, because these family-friendly benefits not only help dads, but moms as well. As we have seen from mothers utilizing these benefits, flextime nurtures more-engaged and -productive employees.”

The research identifies four areas essential to understanding what would be the most beneficial to working dads:

Equal Needs, Unequal Benefits: Dads want the same things as moms but don’t take as much time off.

  • Dads’ perspectives on parenting are similar to that of moms, with both parents wanting to spend more time with children and sharing equally in childcare. Sixty percent of dads and moms find it difficult to balance parenting and career.
  • While almost the same amount of dads and moms (63 percent and 65 percent, respectively) took paid parental leave, dads averaged 4.8 weeks while moms averaged 8.2 weeks.
  • Dads and moms both put flexibility, paid time off, and sick and backup care at the top of the list of programs that are important in meeting the demands of parenting. Sixty-two percent of dads and moms agreed that they often miss important moments in their child’s/children’s life due to the demands of work. 

Differences in Dads: There are significant variations in dads’ responses based on age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and job role.

  • Millennials are the most satisfied with their company’s commitment to working parents (72 percent) versus Gen X (63 percent), Gen Z (57 percent) and baby boomers (55 percent).
  • The largest group of dads who didn’t take time off for parental leave was Asian (29 percent), compared with white (27 percent), black (23 percent) and Hispanic/Latinx (17 percent).
  • More executives (66 percent) think their companies focus on working moms over dads than first-level managers (53 percent) and professional/technical nonmanagers (51 percent).

Welcoming Work: Corporate culture matters—a lot!

  • Fifty percent of dads have male role models at work who took time off. Those dads were between 20 and 50 percent more likely to take time off themselves.
  • Dads who say their company encourages men to take time off took almost two weeks longer leave.
  • Yet 50 percent of all dads surveyed believe being a leader in their company is incompatible with family life.

Freedom to Flex: Flexibility is key—dads want and need more.

  • Eighty-four percent of all dads surveyed listed flexibility when they work as the No. 1 factor important to meeting the demands of parenting.
  • When asked what their companies can do to help them be successful, 38 percent cited flexibility when they work, 37 percent cited flexibility where they work, and 29 percent said “encourage a culture that acknowledges family might sometimes come before work.”
  • Sixty-one percent of dads anticipate needing to take time off from work to care for an adult relative or someone else.

This research is sponsored by Boston Scientific, EY, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft.

This national sample surveying 1,964 dads and 1,036 moms was fielded in June 2019. The dads represent a mix of races/ethnicities, sexual orientations, job levels and ages (of both dads and kids). Participants were all professional (salaried) and had at least an associate’s degree. 

Results for questions using a five-point response scale include the top two responses. For example, the percentage of participants who “agree” equals those who “strongly agree” and “agree” or are “very satisfied” and “satisfied.”

Working Mother Media (WMM), a division of Bonnier Corporation, publishes Working Mother magazine and its companion website, workingmother.com. The Working Mother Research Institute, the National Association for Female Executives, Diversity Best Practices and [email protected] are also units within WMM. WMM’s mission is to serve as a champion of culture change, and Working Mother magazine is the only national magazine for career-committed mothers. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.