Working dads face their own inequality
We hear an awful lot about gender equality in the workplace. Whether it is about equal pay or conditions, it appears that we have a long way to go.
While most news coverage highlights the challenges faced by woman, it was not the least bit surprising to read this week that many fathers believe that taking full parental leave would affect their careers and may hamper their changes of progression. I think it is a terrible shame that fathers have to feel this way.
Apparently, the reason for this is because parental leave has always been viewed as the entitlement of the mother, similar to maternity leave and many women choose to take it after this time because it works for their family to continue the routine.
Thankfully, fathers today are so much more hands on and involved in the day to day rearing of their children than ever before but while there is no shame in carrying a nappy bag or pushing a buggy - admitting to your employer that would want more time at home with your children can be tricky.
While it doesn't mean that you aren't committed to your job, men seem to feel that this is the message that taking parental leave sends.
Regardless of how far we have come in terms of equality, when it comes to parenting, fathers are still seen by many as the second in command and it is for this reason that so many are reluctant to apply for this leave even though they are entitled to do so.
In other European countries, parental leave, rather than maternity leave is split between the parents, if they so wish so that both can have that valuable time with their children when they need it most.
Families can decide what it best for them and mother or father won't suffer professionally for it. While there is no evidence that this actually happens in Ireland, it's a shame that dads feel this way. Perhaps many employers wouldn't judge a male employee for taking this leave, but as so few men actually do, it is so uncommon that it is almost viewed as 'not the done thing'.
If it became more commonplace, then it would be more accepted. After all, it is a finite period of time - 18 weeks and then it's back to work.
We are forever hearing of the struggle and the juggle of working parents so anything that makes life easier and more balanced should be embraced and not feared.