On Equal Pay Day top boffins’ research looks at the role of dads in getting mums back into employment and reducing the gender pay gap.
Fathers are ‘key’ to getting more mums back into the workplace. And freeing up women to return to employment could have a big impact on the gender pay gap.
Based on the average gender pay gap Equal Pay Day marks the point in the year that women are effectively working for free while their male counterparts continue to earn.
But a huge study at the University of Manchester has considered ways to tackle the disparity.
Getting men more involved in their child’s life early on makes a huge difference. If men are involved in their child’s life during the first year they are more likely to still be involved two years later.
That has benefits for the dad and the child including improved educational and health outcomes.
And if a man is doing an equal amount or the majority of childcare at nine months the mum is twice as likely to return to work.
One thing keeping women out of the workforce is finances. If a woman is earning more, as she tends to be thanks to the gender pay gap, it’s likely she’ll be the one to cut her hours or stay at home to take on more of the childcare.
Taking extended maternity leave has a long term impact on a mum’s earning power.
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Dr Helen Norman, an expert in fatherhood and sociology boffin at the University of Manchester led the research surveying over 10,000 households. She has drawn up a list of measures that could make a difference. “What fathers do in the early stages of a child’s life has an impact on future parental work and family decisions,” she explained.
She suggests a ‘daddy quota’ element of Shared Parental Leave, as long as it is well funded, would see more men take more time with their babies. She’s also called for more quality, affordable and flexible childcare. Currently the cost of childcare makes it unaffordable for many meaning one parent has to stay at home – usually the lower earning one, ie the mum.
Dr Norman also points to flexible working as something that needs to be embraced more widely so men can alter their hours to fit round their family without any stigma. And she suggests that firms should be required to go further than just publishing their gender pay gap; they should be forced to draw up action plans to tackle the problem