The daddy track: men who take family leave may get frowned upon at the office – Family

The daddy track: men who take family leave may get frowned upon at the office – Family – Brief Article

Jeffrey Winters

Working mothers justifiably complain about unfair treatment–they are often shunted into less lucrative jobs and overlooked for promotions. But a new study presented at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s annual meeting suggests that working dads may also suffer discrimination.

In 1993, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act to help ease the burden of those who need to care for an ill spouse or mothers who want time off after giving birth. By law, a worker with a family or medical emergency can claim up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But many still feared that those who took leave would be seen as poor “organizational citizens,” because they would be unloading their work on others.

To test whether that bias exists, psychologist Julie Holliday Wayne, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University gave 231 volunteers fabricated personnel files; some contained applications for family leave. Then each volunteer reported his impression of the worker’s willingness to be a good employee.

Women who took family leave were generally seen in a positive light. But men who took leave for a birth or to care for a sick parent were regarded as less conscientious employees than were either men who did not take leave or women employees who did. Wayne believes that this is due to society’s traditional gender roles: Nurturing is seen as a “woman’s job.” “When either men or women go against their familiar role, they are penalized,” she says.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group