Making Academic Life ‘Workable’ For Fathers
by Jon B. Gould, American University and Brian C. Lovato, Augustana College
At a time when “toxic masculinity” is being closely scrutinized, when the #MeToo movement has drawn attention to the problems of unchecked male power, it may seem counterintuitive to focus on the needs of fathers who seek to balance work with family life. Yet, the very factors that support toxic masculinity are also those that stymie equal fathers, that delegitimize their choices, and that prevent them from obtaining appropriate accommodations to make those choices a reality. This is unfortunately true on college and university campuses, where equal fathers – those dads who share equitably in parenting duties – feel stuck and challenged by their employers. It is time that our institutions catch up to and support changes in fathers’ roles. More particularly, it is time that our academic institutions foster a culture on campus that allows academic fathers to excel at work and family life. Like their female colleagues, involved fathers would benefit from family and medical leave, flexibility in work duties, job sharing, and subsidized daycare. However, more than individual accommodations, fathers require a societal rethinking of male caregiving that renders it both “normal” and consistent with masculinity.