Stay-at-Home Dads Might Be The Answer to Women’s Success

posted: 09/21/15
by: Courtney Reimer
stay at home dad  and daughter playing

Take a walk around a playground during any weekday and chances are you'll see far more dads pushing kids on swings than you might've even just a few years ago. That's because more and more, men are putting their own careers on the back burner to be the primary caregiver to their children. And that could be the start of the answer to the too-few-women-in-senior-management problem.

No less an influential voice on the topic of women and careers than Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead" has said that no small part of her success was due to the childcare and at-home support of her husband. And now Andrew Moravcsik, the husband of Anne-Marie Slaughter -- author of the influential essay of a few years ago "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" -- now his own influential essay called "Why I Put My Wife's Career First." He writes of the need for one of them to pull back:"...we hit a few obstacles that other two-career couples will likely find familiar. For one thing, taking turns was easier said than done. One spouse's job responsibilities do not conveniently contract just as the other spouse's duties expand. Nor are all careers created equal."

And so, like a growing number of men, Moravcsik stepped back from his career while his wife stepped forward. Which is incrementally helpful in helping change the ratio of women to men in those leadership positions, but in the long run, it's probably going to take some muscle from even more powerful folks -- something, incidentally, Slaughter has just written about in something of a sequel to her "have it all essay." This one is called "A Toxic Work World" and it argues for national support of childcare, elder care and women in the workplace. She writes:

To support care just as we support competition, we will need some combination of the following: high-quality and affordable child care and elder care; paid family and medical leave for women and men; a right to request part-time or flexible work; investment in early education comparable to our investment in elementary and secondary education; comprehensive job protection for pregnant workers; higher wages and training for paid caregivers; community support structures to allow elders to live at home longer; and reform of elementary and secondary school schedules to meet the needs of a digital rather than an agricultural economy.

A tall order, to be sure, but as she also helpfully points out, we've come a long way from segregated bathrooms, cigarettes at dinner parties and gays having to lie about their sexual orientation.

But for now, we're just happy to see this trend of stay-at-home dads and dads as "lead parent." Even if it means they cry for daddy instead of mommy in the middle of the night. Or perhaps because it means that might happen more -- because we working moms sure could use a little more sleep.