In most families, mothers and fathers both work hard. Pew Research recently reported that moms and dads in the U.S. work essentially equal hours when paid work hours are combined with household chores and child care hours.
Pew also reports that fathers are putting more time into their families than ever before. Yet, many social scientists argue that subtle forms of parenting inequality endure. Some scholars and commentators argue that this inequality results from a patriarchal gender ideology: a power dynamic that affects how parents socialize their children and what roles men and women take on in families.
As a scholar who focuses on fathering and men’s health, I see my research paint a more complicated picture. While traditional gender attitudes and expectations tell an important part of the story, inequalities between moms and dads are not driven solely by beliefs or interpersonal interactions.
Fathers repeatedly tell researchers they want to be more involved parents, yet public policy and social institutions often prevent them from being the dads they want to be – hurting moms, dads and children alike.