Paternity Leave Roundtable Discussion

With Father’s Day just around the corner, we’ve been thinking quite a bit about how men and fathers are important allies in the work that we do. Part of the discussion around here has been about the role that paternity leave could play in women’s economic security, and with the White House holding the first ever Summit on Working Dads earlier this week, paternity leave has catapulted to the national level. Earlier this year, we also saw paternity leave make national headlines when New York Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, was harshly and inappropriately criticized for taking paternity leave and missing the first two games of the season. With all of this buzz, we decided to channel our paternity leave chatter and host our first recorded staff roundtable discussion. We are so excited to share it with you and would love for each of you to join the conversation by leaving thoughts, feedback and questions in the comments section below.

To begin our staff discussion, we watched part of the, “Can We All Have it All?” TED Talk from Anne-Marie Slaughter. With her thoughts as a jumping off point, we launched head first into our discussion on paternity leave, recorded for you below. (Note: The recording has been edited for time. The staff at the table for this discussion included Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, Nicole Cozier, Donna Wiedeman, Claudia Williams, Lauren Stillwell and Jessica Zetzman.)


As the discussion unfolded, we touched on:

  • The current state of paternity leave in the US
  • Feedback from our own Nicole Cozier, who just returned from maternity leave, on how the lack of spousal leave means leaving a young child in the care of a stranger vs. a partner (:36)
  • The model for paternity leave that exists in Sweden (1:23)
  • What the lack of paternity leave at a child’s birth means for gender roles and caregiving further down the road (2:07)
  • The need not only for leave when children are infants, but for more flexible schedules that encourage family engagement throughout a child’s life (4:45)
  • Family leave and prioritization of work and family (7:52)
  • Is “re-socializing men” the right way forward? (9:00)
  • The rate at which men use or take paternity leave if it were to be made available to them (11:36)
  • The economic effects on women’s future pay potential for every month that their partner takes leave (13:03)
  • Effect of paternity leave on divorce rates, custody and children’s health (14:50)

If you’re interested in any of the articles or statistics we referenced, here is the Secretary of Labor’s Huffington Post Article, a great New York Times article on the effects of paternity leave in Sweden, Pew research on the increasing role of women as breadwinners and the study on the correlation of lower child mortality rates and parental leave.

We want to know: what are your thoughts on paternity leave? Think we missed something? Leave your comments below!

Why aren’t there more apprenticeships for women?

The following post by Zach McDade was originally posted on Metro Trends, a blog maintained by the Urban Institute, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner. We applaud the Urban Institute for looking at issues through a gender lens and encourage other organizations and researchers to do the same!

Urban Institute Fellow Bob Lerman posted Wednesday about the role of apprenticeships in preparing workers for success, citing evidence that suggests the government should invest much more than it does now in apprenticeship programs.

That post got a lot of attention and generated a lot of good questions. I asked Lerman a few of them as follow-ups. His responses are below.

Your apprenticeship post got a lot of attention. One question suggested that relatively few women have apprenticeships. Is that true? If so, why?

It is true. The main reason is that apprenticeships have been concentrated in male-dominated industries, especially construction and plant-level work in manufacturing. Governments have sponsored initiatives to attract women to these fields with only modest success.

So why do you think apprenticeships haven’t flourished in industries more popular with women?

Because policymakers have failed to make expanding apprenticeship a priority, and creating an apprenticeship program is complicated for most employers.

Which traditionally women-dominated industries might benefit from increased investment?

Health and finance are two major industries in which women make up a high share of employers. Both could benefit from having more well-structured apprenticeships. Child care and elder care could use apprenticeships to raise quality and build inclusive job ladders.

What are some of the benefits women might expect to see?

If apprenticeships became more widespread across industries, women would benefit for the same reasons men benefit—earning while learning, increasing their skills, obtaining a valued occupational credential, and becoming a proud member of a community of practice. Quality apprenticeships can also upgrade the image and quality of women-dominated professions, such as child care, that currently pay low wages and garner little prestige.

What about minority workers? Would they see the same benefits from greater apprenticeship investment?

Black and Hispanic workers make up about 30 percent of apprentices. They likely benefit more than non-Hispanic white workers because they are currently less successful in academic-only settings. Also, because employers hire apprentices on a temporary basis and watch them work and learn in their companies, apprenticeships can reduce discrimination based on group identities.

You seem to see apprenticeships as a missing link in preparing our workers, especially workers without college degrees, for gainful employment. What are the next steps?

The key is to expand significantly the number of apprenticeship slots sponsored by employers. Moving to scale in this sense is difficult but not impossible. It requires three steps that should be taken simultaneously: 1) engaging political leadership at a high level, such as a president or a governor; 2) launching statewide marketing campaigns, including publicity targeted at specific industry sectors; and 3) selling apprenticeship to individual firms (think of it as a retail approach) as well as providing technical assistance to organize and validate programs at the firm level.

Apprentice photo via Shutterstock

I officially consider President Obama a "Guy Who Gets It."

This morning as I was rushing out the house, I caught 10 minutes of President Obama’s speech at the University of Cairo.  As the sixth point in his address, the President talked about the importance and benefits of investing in women and girls. 

Our president has already shown himself to be a domestic champion of women’s issues by creating the White House Council on Women and Girls

Now, he continues to trumpet the significance of supporting women and girls by making it one of his key platforms in international discussions. 

Here at The Women’s Foundation, I think that officially makes the President “A Guy Who Gets It”.  Maybe he’d be interested in a t-shirt like the one Rick Ballard wore proudly on stage at last year’s Leadership Luncheon.

Lena Peterson is the Office Assistant at The Women’s Foundation.

The Dalai Lama gets it.

At The Women’s Foundation, we have a phrase for men who support our mission.  We call them guys who get it.

We’re lucky to have many wonderful, supportive men in our camp here in our local area, including Leroy Pingho, Ralph Boyd, Jr. and Frederic L. Ballard, Jr.

This past Sunday’s Washington Post has a wonderful and thoughtful article in the Outlook section written by the Dalai Lama, titled, "My Vision of a Compassionate Future. "

He writes so eloquently about how we, as a global community, can and must bring about a more peaceful world through non-violent, pro-active approaches to social change. He tells us that we need to instill a sense of caring for others, to tap our compassion, and to teach our children to develop their brains and their hearts.

He goes on to write: "To promote greater compassion, we must pay special attention to the role of women. Given that mothers carry the fetus for months within their own bodies, from a biological point of view women in general may possess greater sensitivity of heart and capacity for empathy. My first teacher of love and compassion was my own mother, who provided me with maximum love. I do not mean to reinforce in any way the traditional view that a woman’s place is confined to the home. I believe that the time has come for women to take more active roles in all domains of human society, in an age in which education and the capacities of the mind, not physical strength, define leadership. This could help create a more equitable and compassionate society."

This paragraph nearly jumped off the page for me. The Dalai Lama speaks of something that we at The Women’s Foundation have known for a long time: that the world would be a much better place if women were given equitable opportunities and a chance to reach their full potential.

The Dalai Lama is definitely a guy who gets it.

Jennifer Cortner is president of EFX Media and serves on The Women’s Foundation’s board of directors and as the chair of the communications committee.  Our committees are just one of many ways that you can get involved in our work and making sure the women of our region get a chance to reach their full potential.  There’s a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation.  Find yours today.