Brookes lends expertise to new report on fatherhood and the workplace

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Families

Recommendations by a sociology expert at Oxford Brookes University about shared parental leave and how much support fathers receive at work have formed part of a new report released by the Women and Equalities Committee this week (20 March).

As the majority of families in the UK are also working families, dependent on more than one income, work/life balance has become a major concern for policy makers and families themselves as they juggle work and family care.

Over the last 20 years, Professor Tina Miller has researched aspects of family lives, focusing in particular on key transitions – becoming a mother and becoming a father and then following how individual behaviours and family practices unfold.

The new report about fathers and the workplace from MPs in the Women and Equalities Committee is intended to help the Government to deliver its objectives of creating real change in the lives of fathers and mothers.

“If we are really serious about fathers sharing care we have to say, ‘This is fathers’ leave.’ Men will benefit in all sorts of ways from that, and many men want that.

Professor Tina Miller, Professor of Sociology, Oxford Brookes University

It highlights that fathers who want to take a more active role in raising their young children are being failed by “outdated” workplace policies which do not meet needs of modern-day families. Fathers in particular want to be supported at work to take a more equal share of childcare when children are young.

Professor Miller was the only academic invited in March last year to give oral evidence to the Committee as part of this new report and her input has been reflected in the committee recommendation to introduce 12 weeks dedicated leave for fathers.

“Mothers and fathers do not make choices about who takes leave on a level playing field; it is gendered, and it is historically unequal”, comments Professor Miller.  

She believes that making parental leave a dedicated right for fathers is essential to its effectiveness as a tool for promoting sharing of care.

She continues: “If we are really serious about fathers sharing care we have to say, ‘This is fathers’ leave.’ Men will benefit in all sorts of ways from that, and many men want that. It does make it possible for the fathers who have not realised they want it or find it difficult to try to ask and request that.”

The ways in which gender shapes possibilities and practices has been a particular focus of Professor Miller’s research, which is internationally recognised and has previously been used by policy makers in the UK and international institutions such as the World Health Organization.

Professor Miller has already published extensively in this field: her major publications include Making Sense of Motherhood, Making Sense of Fatherhood and most recently Making Sense of Parenthood, all published by Cambridge University Press.

More about Professor Tina Miller can be found on her profile page. She is based in the Department of Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University.