'Domestic' Dads Often Face Scorn at Work, Study Finds

When men or women step outside traditional gender roles, some colleagues react badly, research shows

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THURSDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-class men who take on a large share of childrearing and chores in the family home are often met with disrespect in the workplace, compared to men who follow more traditional gender roles, a new study finds.

The same holds true for mothers with "unconventional" childcare arrangements or women without children, say a team from the University of Toronto.

"Their hours are no different than other employees', but their co-workers appear to be picking up on their nontraditional caregiving roles and are treating them disrespectfully," study co-author Jennifer Berdahl, a professor at the Rotman School of Management said in a university news release.

The researchers surveyed unionized workers in female-dominated jobs and public service employees in a male-dominated workforce.

Overall, the investigators found that any worker who had a nontraditional gender role in the family was given a hard time by co-workers. Those who faced the least harassment included men who did less caregiving and household chores and women who did more of both.

The results suggest that people's adherence to traditional gender roles in the home has more influence on how they're treated at work than how well they do their job, which puts pressure on them to conform to traditional roles at home.

"They may choose not to have children if these traditional roles are not feasible for them, or get in the way of family or career goals," Berdahl said.

In addition, "both male and female employees suffer lower pay and fewer promotions after taking time off work to care for family, to extents that cannot be explained by possible skill loss, hours, performance or ambition," she noted.

"What we really need is a more flexible workplace and policies that protect employees who choose to use that flexibility or not, regardless of their gender," Berdahl concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about roles within the family.

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