A study focusing on the complex and changing role of fathers in the modern American family was released by the Boston College Center for Work & Family on June 18, 2010. This
qualitative study of first-time fathers lends supporting data to some existing notions of fatherhood and reveals possible new future trends in the work-family conversation.
The year-long study, conducted by Boston College Center for Work & Family researchers, focuses on both the career and
paternal identities of new fathers; how the two integrate, conflict, and enrich one another. Spearheaded by Executive Director Professor Brad Harrington and Senior Research Associate Fred Van Deusen, this study builds on data from a previous qualitative 2007 study of first-time mothers with careers (by Professor Jamie Ladge of Northeastern University).
There are significant data points that influence work-life issues for first-time fathers. According to current statistics,
in the U.S. today women make up 50% of the workforce (The Shriver Report, 2009) and dual-career couples comprise over 70% of two parent households with children (Bianchi, 2008). In addition, in recent years 185 women have graduated from college for every 100 men who have done so. (David Brooks, New York Times). Given the sharp rise in women’s advancement in education and the impact this has on dual-career couples and their earning potential, women will be less likely to play the role of the “accommodating spouse” as it pertains to childrearing duties. The implication for fathers is that the “traditional roles” of fatherhood no longer exist. New fathers are looking to their peers as role models on how to navigate within this new paradigm.
Significant findings from The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood within a Career Context include:
Implications for workplaces include recognizing that fathers, as well as mothers, are challenged by the need to
balance their work and home lives. Organizations can support parents in their workforce by understanding that mothers and fathers desire and can benefit from flexible work arrangements, parental leave and other parenting supports.
This new study provides a richer understanding of the struggle of fathers to embrace their roles as breadwinner and