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Men still believe their careers will suffer if they take advantage of paternity leave, according to a new survey from Deloitte.
The cultural norm of men not taking time off to care for their newborn babies is one largely driven by fear. More than one-third of the 1,000 survey respondents said they thought taking leave would “jeopardize their position” at work. Meanwhile, more than half of total respondents said they thought spending time with their newborn would be perceived as a lack of commitment, while an additional 41% said they feared losing opportunities on assignments at work.
Their fears may not be without merit. Countries that offer more liberal parental leave policies tend to have larger pay gaps, creating the fear that if men behave like women, they’ll also face the same discrimination. Indeed, 54% of survey respondents said they think their colleagues would judge a father who took the same amount of parental leave as a mother. (Oddly enough, 64% said they believe companies should offer men and women the same amount of time off after the birth of a child.)
However, it turns out that men don’t have as much to worry about as they might think. Research has found that having a child improves men’s careers: In fact, their earnings increase by more than 6% for each child they have. While part of that narrative stems from dads being seen as responsible (while moms are viewed as distracted) it also results from dads not taking time off to have kids.
While parental leave policies are designed to level the playing field between parents, they only work as intended if men take advantage of the time they’re given to devote to childcare. The good news is this trend has slowly been shifting: About 25% of eligible fathers take advantage of California’s paid family leave, an increase from 17% five years ago.
“It’s something as a culture we need to stress and make easier to do,” Deepa Purushothaman, the head of Deloitte’s Women Initiative, told Bloomberg.
Twitter and Etsy are among some major companies that have expanded their parental leave policies. Others lead by example from their leadership: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took off two months to care for his daughter when she was born.