Gender, parenthood and public policy

  • Gender, parenthood and public policy

    Professor Tina Miller

    Societal ideas about who cares for children have often assumed that women are naturally more able to care than men.

    Through her research, Professor Tina Miller challenges these ideas and presents new ways to think about men as carers too.

    Her research findings have had significant impact in the areas of work and family lives, alongside an expertise on parenthood transitions, gender and caring.

    Professor Miller has promoted public engagement and understanding, led changes in professional practice and influenced key policy decisions.

    This has involved undertaking advisory roles and policy development at the World Health Organization. Influence of national policy has taken place through engagement with think tanks, bodies such as the National Childbirth Trust and via membership of a Labour party policy review panel on fatherhood.

    The resulting findings have resonance in policy, health and public spheres.

    Two major consecutive and comparative studies have been undertaken by Professor Miller during the past 15 years. The first of these, Making Sense of Motherhood (1998-2005), has been internationally recognised as foundational in mapping the gendered terrain of contemporary family lives and women’s experiences of first-time motherhood.

    Societal assumptions

    It draws on issues of reproductive health and socio-cultural factors which shape individual experiences and broader societal assumptions. The gap between society’s assumptions that women ‘naturally’ knew how to mother and women’s own experiences that mothering skills had to be learned and any difficulties were hard to talk about, was a major finding. This has subsequently influenced health visitor practice.

    This study provided the foundation and design for the second major project, Making Sense of Fatherhood (2006-2013). This examined men’s unfolding experiences of transition to first-time parenthood alongside caring and paid-work experiences and practices.

    These two studies have contributed to Miller’s internationally recognised expertise on gender, policy and the ways in which processes shape individual and socio-cultural understandings and family practices.

    Family lives

    Miller’s research has successfully combined academic rigour with a focus on processes in family lives through periods of transition.

    The resulting findings have resonance in policy, health and public spheres and her expertise is highlighted by her regular national and international media appearances.

    Read more about the full Impact Case Study on RADAR. Further information on Professor Tina Miller can be found on her Profile page.