Special Issue "Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Ann-Zofie Duvander
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: family policy; parental leave; family dynamics; gender equality; labour market participation
Prof. Alison Koslowski
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, 15a George Square, EH8 9LD Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Interests: labor market; family policy; fathers and fatherhood; gender; parental leaves

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The intersection between parental leave and career trajectories is a crucial dimension for understanding gendered life courses.  In part, self-perpetuating gendered understandings of career trajectories may explain the strongly gendered patterns that persist with regard to parental leave taking: Fathers usually take a much lower proportion of leave than mothers. How decisions around leave taking are made and their consequences vary substantially between mothers and fathers, and also between contexts and across time. Opportunities for taking leave available in the workplace also vary substantially between mothers and fathers, and also between contexts and across time. In this special issue, we aim to broaden and deepen our understanding of the relationship between taking parental leave and careers and occupations, for both mothers and fathers. We therefore welcome empirical contributions with a focus on such aspects as gender equality, the workplace perspective, couple interactions over leave, and career decisions.

We welcome a range of empirical contributions from specific countries and contexts but also comparative analyses, and also those contributions, which take into account the variation across groups of parents (e.g., by socio-economic group, gender, ethnicity, disability, age).

Prof. Ann-Zofie Duvander
Prof. Alison Koslowski
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • parental leave
  • career trajectories
  • workplace

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Fathers’ Parental Leave Uptake in Belgium and Sweden: Self-Evident or Subject to Employment Characteristics?
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(11), 312; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8110312 - 13 Nov 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2475
Abstract
The limited increase in fathers’ involvement in childcare tasks in response to the unprecedented rise in female labour market participation illustrates the incomplete nature of the gender revolution. Available research provides evidence for micro-economic mechanisms and the influence of gender norms and social [...] Read more.
The limited increase in fathers’ involvement in childcare tasks in response to the unprecedented rise in female labour market participation illustrates the incomplete nature of the gender revolution. Available research provides evidence for micro-economic mechanisms and the influence of gender norms and social policy design on couples’ gendered divisions of parental leave, but knowledge on how national level contexts shape partners’ agency remains limited. Hence, comparative research from different national contexts is needed. This paper examines the association between fathers’ pre-birth income and workplace characteristics, and whether they take up parental leave after the birth of their first child in Belgium and Sweden by using detailed longitudinal register data from Sweden and Belgium. Results show that, whereas an opportunity cost logic seems to underlie fathers’ parental leave decisions in Belgium, gender equality in contributing to the household income yields the highest probability of fathers’ parental leave uptake in Sweden. Furthermore, in Sweden, fathers’ employment characteristics are more strongly associated with whether fathers’ take leave longer than the quota than whether fathers take any leave at all. The different mechanisms in Belgium and Sweden suggest that the design of leave policies and the broader normative and institutional national level context moderate couples’ parental leave uptake decisions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers)
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Article
Father’s Use of Parental Leave in Organizations with Different Institutional Logics
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(10), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100294 - 22 Oct 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2066
Abstract
Although the use of the father’s quota of parental leave has become a majority practice among Norwegian fathers, there is some variation between different groups of fathers. This article explores how male managers in the engineering industry and male brokers in the finance [...] Read more.
Although the use of the father’s quota of parental leave has become a majority practice among Norwegian fathers, there is some variation between different groups of fathers. This article explores how male managers in the engineering industry and male brokers in the finance industry use the father’s quota. Based on the theoretical framework of institutional logics, the article uses two pairs of opposite concepts-‘available and unavailable’ and ‘replaceable and irreplaceable’ in a work context, to focus on how the use of the father’s quota is affected. Analyzing two different male-dominated organizations, the findings show how the use of the father’s quota depends on different institutional logics, which sets the framework for the practice and culture of the two organizations. The male managers in the engineering industry become unavailable and replaceable in their organizations, thus making it possible for the fathers to use the father’s quota and parental leave. In contrast to this, the institutional logic in the finance industry makes brokers available and irreplaceable in their organizations, thus making it difficult for them to use father’s quota or parental leave Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers)
Article
Does Mothers’ Parental Leave Uptake Stimulate Continued Employment and Family Formation? Evidence for Belgium
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(10), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100292 - 21 Oct 2019
Viewed by 2189
Abstract
Parental leave schemes undoubtedly facilitate the combination of work and family life during leave-taking. In addition to this instantaneous effect of parental leave uptake, a growing yet limited body of research addresses the question of subsequent effects of parental leave uptake. As work-family [...] Read more.
Parental leave schemes undoubtedly facilitate the combination of work and family life during leave-taking. In addition to this instantaneous effect of parental leave uptake, a growing yet limited body of research addresses the question of subsequent effects of parental leave uptake. As work-family policies, such as parental leave, are geared towards stimulating family formation and (female) employment, this study assessed whether the individual uptake of parental leave by employed mothers after the birth of a child yielded differential parity progression and employment patterns compared to eligible employed mothers that did not take leave. Using data from the Belgian Administrative Socio-Demographic panel, we applied dynamic propensity score matching and hazard models. Our results indicate that previous leave uptake is a differentiating factor in subsequent fertility and employment outcomes, but also that (self-)selection strongly affects this relation. Descriptive analyses indicate that mothers who use leave shortly after childbearing exhibit a similar progression to second births, more third births and less fourth births, while displaying substantially lower hazards of exiting the labour force regardless of parity. However, when controlling for the fact that mothers who use parental leave exhibit a stronger pre-birth attachment to the labour force, work for larger employers in specific employment sectors, and also differ from non-users in terms of household characteristics (e.g., higher household income, more likely to be married and less likely to have a non-Belgian background), many associations between leave uptake and subsequent fertility and employment outcomes turn neutral or even negative. No indication for higher parity progression among leave users was found and the hazard of exiting the labour force was moderately higher for leave users. These empirical results are discussed in the Belgian context of low parental leave benefits, short leave entitlements and low uptake of parental leave, features which are also displayed by other Western European countries and contrast with the Nordic European countries studied in previous research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers)
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Article
What Helps and What Hinders? Exploring the Role of Workplace Characteristics for Parental Leave Use and Its Career Consequences
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(10), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100270 - 26 Sep 2019
Viewed by 2854
Abstract
The division of parental leave among couples today is still unequal—even in countries with progressive leave schemes. Given the gendered nature of the workplace, we examine how organizational characteristics relate to fathers’ uptake and length of parental leave as well as to the [...] Read more.
The division of parental leave among couples today is still unequal—even in countries with progressive leave schemes. Given the gendered nature of the workplace, we examine how organizational characteristics relate to fathers’ uptake and length of parental leave as well as to the perceived career consequences of leave uptake among those fathers who took leave. In our mixed methods study, we draw on unique quantitative and qualitative data on different-sex couples with young children in Germany (2015). We find that the fear of professional repercussions and the lack of a replacement at work inhibit fathers both from taking leave in general and, for those who take leave, from taking it for more than two months. Interestingly, however, the majority of fathers who took leave did not think that their leave negatively affected their professional advancement. This positive evaluation was independent of the length of leave. We compared fathers’ perceived leave consequences to those of mothers, who tended to have a more negative view of the impact of taking leave on their careers. Both fathers and mothers were more likely to report negative career consequences if they worked in organizations that promoted a strong ideal worker norm, that is, where employees thought that they were expected to prioritize paid work over their private life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers)
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Article
Parents’ Strategies in Dealing with Constructions of Gendered Responsibilities at Their Workplaces
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(9), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8090250 - 02 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2202
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers)
Article
Gender Inequalities in Early Career Trajectories and Parental Leaves: Evidence from a Nordic Welfare State
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(9), 253; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8090253 - 01 Sep 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3116
Abstract
Parental leaves are, besides unemployment, the main reason for career breaks in early career. Despite the progress in recent decades towards more equal sharing of childcare between mothers and fathers, the labour market risk due to parenting remains mainly with women. In this [...] Read more.
Parental leaves are, besides unemployment, the main reason for career breaks in early career. Despite the progress in recent decades towards more equal sharing of childcare between mothers and fathers, the labour market risk due to parenting remains mainly with women. In this article, we analyse how parental leaves relate to early career trajectories of young Finnish men and women. Using longitudinal register data for 2005–2016 from the Finnish Centre for Pensions, we perform a multi-trajectory analysis of the labour market attachment of a cohort born in 1980. Based on working days and earnings, we find five distinct career trajectories for both men and women, with the majority being well attached to the labour market by their mid-30s. While men and women on average have similar employment lengths, the gender gap in earnings is already 30 per cent in this early career phase. One of the causes may be found in the highly unequal division of family-related career breaks; the duration of mothers’ family-related leaves in this cohort was 13 times longer than fathers’ leave spells. Long home care leaves were particularly common among mothers with low education levels and weak attachment to the labour market. Efforts towards a more equal division of parental leaves are needed in order to combat gender inequalities that already emerge in early career and potentially cause life-long disadvantages for women’s careers, earnings and pensions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers)
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Article
‘You Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours’? Support to Academics Who Are Carers in Higher Education
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(6), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8060164 - 29 May 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2884
Abstract
In recent years, it has become common for individuals to juggle employment and unpaid care work. This is just as true for the England-based academic workforce, our focus in this article. We discuss how, in the context of English Higher Education, support for [...] Read more.
In recent years, it has become common for individuals to juggle employment and unpaid care work. This is just as true for the England-based academic workforce, our focus in this article. We discuss how, in the context of English Higher Education, support for carers is enacted and negotiated through policies and practices of care. Our focus on academics with a diverse range of caring responsibilities is unusual insofar as the literature on care in academia is overwhelmingly concerned with parents, usually mothers. This article is informed primarily by critical and post-structuralist feminist perspectives. We draw on a corpus of 47 interviews conducted with academics representing a broad range of caring responsibilities, subjects, and positions. A thematic analysis reveals how carers’ relationship with the provision and policies of care support at an institutional level is characterised by ambivalence. On the one hand, participants approve of societal and institutional policy support for carers. On the other hand, they are often reluctant to position themselves as the beneficiary of such policies, expressing instead a general preference for support from outside the workplace or for workplace-based inter-individual and informal care arrangements. This resistance is particularly noticeable in the case of participants with caring responsibilities other than the parenting of healthy, able-bodied children and of those whose gender, class, racial, or sexual identity do not conform with the figure of the ‘ideal academic’, contributing to their othering in the academic realm. These findings have significant implications for policies supporting carers, pointing to the need for greater visibility and recognition of caring responsibilities in academia, especially in terms of their diverse identities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family and Work: Parental Leave and Careers)
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