Having it all isn’t just a problem for women. Given the changing perceptions on gender and the opportunities that come with that, some men struggle with the concept of “it all” just like women.
We all know fathers who stay at work for long hours but would prefer to be at home with their children or at the school assembly or a sports game. The expectation is on men to work full-time, and there is a prevailing lack of opportunity for flexibility for men – which in turn hurts gender equity for everyone.
Men across industries lack access to significant parental leave and flexible arrangements. Men receive two weeks paid-parental leave at minimum wage. This confines men, the second parent, to their job and the expectation that they will be the primary financial provider. The outcome of this is spending less time with their family without much flexibility.
The ill-conceived notion that striving for “it all” is only for women is concerning, mostly because men who don’t feel as if they have much choice aren’t heard in this discussion. In the LGBTIQ community, gay men in relationships struggle with this due to the lack of tradition on who should take a break from their career if they have children.
The stay-at-home dad is still a developing idea with some facing ridicule at school pick-ups and from their peers. While women are 45% of the workforce according to the ABS, only 1% of men are stay-at-home dads, that’s 12,000 dads compared to 230,000 mums at home.
Men are constrained to the idea that they’re the financial provider and the second-parent in their household. That’s not “having it all” in any book. On the face of it, they have a career and a family. Looking further below though, some may experience deep regret at not being able to better engage with their families more.
We often hear from men in leadership positions thanking their families for the support they’ve received in to pursue those those roles. They’re giving up something to pursue their career, and often that means their family. This is not a situation where someone can “have it all”.
The current situation is crippling everyone, it will only improve with access to flexible workplaces, child-care and other initiative that can better get more women back into e workforce.
Gender equity is a scenario where we all benefit, where men and women can both have it all – whatever that means to them.