Around 1.2 million men are now working part time, according to ABS stats published in The Australian today.
That’s a massive increase of 11% over just two years from June 2014 to June 2016.
But when you consider the fact almost half of all women are working part time, compared with around one fifth of men, you can see that this is a gender divide that still has a long, long way to move.
Earlier this year a report by Bain & Company and Chief Executive Women found flexible work can hinder the career aspirations of men. Based on a survey of 1030 employees of large businesses, the report found men felt negatively judged if they asked for flexible or part time work. Add to that the fact the Australian Human Rights Commission found 27% of fathers and partners report experiencing discrimination around parental leave and returning to work, even after taking short stints of parental leave, and you can see we still have a huge cultural shift to make when it comes to how each gender can work.
The only way to make great flexible careers and opportunities widely accessible for everyone is to mainstream flexible work for both genders. Flexible work needs to be as much a norm for ‘working mothers’ as it is for ‘working men who don’t have kids’.
Indeed, when flexible work is no longer seen as career limiting or a risky option to pursue — and therefore one taken only out of necessity, such as when childcare is unaccessible or unaffordable — it will finally be seen as a great option and style of working for anyone who has or wants to have a life outside of work.
‘Mainstreaming’ flexible work means we may finally no longer see work categorised as ‘full time’ or ‘part time’ or even ‘flexible’, but rather as something you just do. Now that would be the ultimate cultural shift.
We still have a long way to go but it’s great to see the work of advocates in this space is seeing some progress.