Chris Carlson sued CVS, claiming it had contravened family law. Photo: Rick Friedman for the Guardian figcaption > source >
Researchers have a term for the first half of this equation: the fatherhood bonus. For most men, becoming a father outcomes in a wage increase, whereas for most women, becoming a mom results in a wage penalty- a penalty that compounds with each new child.
Employers reward fathers because they perceive fatherhood as a sign of a worker’s commitment, stability and “deservingness”, writes Michelle Budig, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst who has studied the trend. The fatherhood bonus is so pervasive, research suggests, that the wage gap between mothers and fathers has get wider even as the wage gap between men and women overall has gotten smaller.
But employers may not be rewarding fatherhood so much as rewarding a style of fatherhood that doesn’t require the employer to be flexible or accommodating.
” Suddenly, they’re not’ dependable’ any more, they’re not’ ambitious’ any more ,” said Calvert.” Male and female supervisors were trying to police the men into traditional gender roles. The pervasive assumption is that humen are free of family responsibilities. And that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will never get off that treadmill .”
All of this redounds severely on the fight for gender equality.
Millennial humen without children are more supportive than any previous generation of breaking down traditional gender roles- in the abstract. Once they have children, today’s young families tend to revert to old gender norms, with women bearing the brunt of childcare and men thinking that was best.
study called ” Can We Finish the Revolution ?” blamed the shift in attitudes on very few American workplaces having family-friendly policies. In heterosexual couples who are faced with the prospect that parenthood would compromise one or both of their careers, girls took on a greater share of the caregiving.
Carlson and his wife wanted their roles to be more equal- they’re raising two girls, after all- after their lives as mothers got off to a harrowing start. Carlson’s first daughter was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Although she’s healthy now, he was back to work before she had even been released from the Nicu.
Before Summer was born, they took out a loan against Carlson’s 401( k) to allow him to take six weeks of unpaid leave. Carlson planned his wife’s baby shower. He was up in the middle of the night for more of Summer’s feedings. He ran the household while his wife recovered.” I connected more ,” Carlson recalled.
The cost was the faith of his employers.When his boss learned Carlson was leaving for several weeks, he asked a gathering of store managers to guess who was going on “maternity” leave.” Look around, it’s the one that’s turning bright red ,” he brayed.” It’s Chris !”
His boss mock-introduced Carlson to his faculty as a former stay-at-home papa when Carlson returned.” I made the mistake of saying I miss my baby ,” Carlson said, and his boss joked that Carlson had postpartum depression.
Those cultural expectations are reflected in how severely fathers have fared in the legal system. For working moms, an extensive body of case law prevents employers from penalise them based on the expectation that becoming a mother reduces productivity.
The same is not true for working fathers. Courts generally don’t take men seriously who claim they were fired because they didn’t act like stereotypical men. Some of the only working fathers who have won major discrimination lawsuits were caretakers-of-last-resort – that is, their wives has been killed or catastrophically injured. For fathers in more ordinary situations, the law protects them merely in theory.
Carlson, though, caught a breaking. This fall
, strong> CVS offered to settle his claims, which he did, for an undisclosed quantity. The CVS spokesperson stressed that neither he nor CVS admitted to wrongdoing.
Carlson still hasn’t recovered the career he built over more than a decade. When we met in August, he was working as an assistant at Toys R Us and trying to put his newly acquired real estate license to work.
” It’s the secret out there ,” Carlson reflected.” Men feel embarrassed to talk about it. And you won’t find a lot of men who will want to talk about it because the culture hammered them down so much .”
” You want to move on from it, but you just can’t move on from it ,” he said.” I second-guess myself. Should I have even gone on leave? Because none of this would’ve happened if I didn’t. It put me in a situation of my family or work. I was being forced to make a decision, and I’m going to choose family every time .”
” Right, bumpus ?” Carlson looked down at Summer, who was silent on his lap. Then he looked up.
” Family is more important to me than anything in the world ,” he continued. “Right?”