Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Part-Time for Men

Sue Shellenbarger's column in the Wall Street Journal today highlights a man who - gasp - reduced his work schedule to three days a week to be home with his kids. Unless my memory is short-circuiting (quite possible), I don't think I've seen such a story in a major newspaper before. At the least, the man-works-part-time storyline is exceedingly rare. So I'm sending out big applause to Ms. Shellenbarger for picking it up.

The man in her story worked in a standard corporate environment at the time he asked for reduced hours. No oddball job or academic workyear here. He was an electrical engineer, employed in a department of all men (all working full-time, of course). He approached his boss with the idea, which was borne of wanting his children to have more time with their parents, and got a lukewarm "we'll see" type of response. A month later, he was granted the arrangement on a temporary basis.

Fifteen months into the arrangement, the couple's third child was born and he chose to end his part-time gig. He was able to ramp up to full-time at work, and his wife became a SAHM. Hmm.... I loved the story up until that last part. I mean, I have nothing against families making whatever decisions that fit them best, but I wonder why this couple didn't consider the work/life balance they might have both attained in the long-run by two part-time salaries rather than a single full-time one.

Still, seeing this article in the WSJ is encouraging to me. It is a happy message (finally!) about how work flexibility can be used by men to gain more time with their children. Next, I would love to see a story about how men (and women) can reduce their hours on a permanent, not temporary, basis. Maybe someday, we'll even give ourselves permission to work less than full-time just because our happiness is well worth the paycut.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that typical ending is a bit disappointing! My husband and I are in our third year of both working reduced schedules (3 days in the office, 2 days at home, with some teleworking on those days) and I don't really foresee that changing, if we have anything to say about it. I know I NEVER want to go back to full-time.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Marci said...

I found the end of the article -- the comment that "going part-time didn't hinder" his career -- to be a little bit puzzling. So what if it had hindered his career? Careers can be hindered, put on hold, altered due to many different circumstances...

And if they make roughly the same amount of money, what's the difference financially between him working full-time and her staying home (their arrangement after their third child was born) and each of them working half time? I think that needs to be addressed, because a lot of families living on one salary would still be living on one salary (two half salaries) under that arrangement.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

I don't think the article would've made it into the paper were it not for its ending. The underlying message seems to be, 'Hey, look at this work approach by a man - an interesting novelty, but lets not fool ourselves - he needs to get back full time.' I suppose one could argue that it's better than not being printed, that it's good to be in a paper like the WSJ, but it seems to be the outcome is ultimately about how what really works best is the 50's traditional model. Leave it to the WSJ to do that!

1:10 PM  

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