This Is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University with Talking Management for The Globe & Mail. I am delighted to speak to Jamie Ladge, from Northeastern University in Boston.
Jamie, you have been looking recently at the role of fathers and the impact of them being fathers at work. What are some of your key findings?
LADGE - We look at the role of being an involved father in the workplace, and originally we got started thinking about what does it mean to be a father and what does it mean to fathers today? We often hear the term organizational man and the assumption that fathers are bread winners and their primary role should be not as a care-giver for their children but primarily bringing home the money and taking care of the family.
Yet, in the media, we see that changing and so we wanted to study to the extent that the involved fathering concept was actually accurate. So we looked at a sample first of 31 men who were relatively new fathers, and it was a qualitative sample where we tried to understand the meaning of fatherhood.
What we found was different images that fathers had of themselves. And part of that was a bread winner image that they were still holding on to but they were also holding on to roles as a father as a role-model, as a coparent and a nurturer, and that gets more into the involved parenting.
What is interesting is that they are sort of swirling all those images of themselves in their minds and trying to make sense of how to be a bread winner and a more involved father.
MOORE – How should organizations evolve to allow fathers to be both bread winner but also very much involved with the kids and helping their wife out as well.
LADGE - Well, it is interesting you ask this question because there are a lot of policies you can put in place to help individuals with work family needs: certainly they have been around a long time to support women.
The problem is that not a lot of people want to take advantage of them because they are afraid of the stigma that is in place. One of the things we found in our research is that men don't necessarily take formal flexibility, they do it more informally in a stealth fashion and that is really interesting and important because they take it when they need it without asking.
Obviously that implies that they are in a position that they are allowed to do that. There is actually things that women can learn from men, instead of formalizing things and not assuming they can do things in the workplace, breaking down some of those barriers that assume you have to be forced into a facetime, 9-5 sort of situation.