This paper, which is based on qualitative research conducted in Austria, focuses on current gender inequalities between parents in fulfilling their parental responsibilities, which means reconciling the responsibilities of childcare and earning a living. Austria is characterized by a substantial gender gap in men’s and women’s labor force participation and a system that provides particularly long parental leaves. These foster long-term gender inequalities in parents’ careers and involvement in family life after their transition to parenthood. Against this background, we analyzed constructions of parental responsibilities parents face at their workplaces, and how these constructions shape parents’ decisions on sharing parental responsibilities. The findings demonstrate the relevance of parental norms that comprise a father’s main responsibility as breadwinner and a mother’s primary responsibility as a caregiver, constructed and reproduced by parents’ colleagues and employers. Consequently, for parents who try to share their breadwinning and caregiving in a non-normative (and more gender-equal) way, both parents are forced to find strategies in dealing with normative constructions. These strategies range from making a ‘conscious decision’, insisting on the original plan, and challenging predominant norms at workplaces, through quitting the job and looking for another employer, to modifying or giving up the originally planned arrangement.
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