Devoted Dads Struggle With 'Masculine Mystique' At Work

working fathers"There's still pressure at work to be the 1950s working dad, and pressure at home to be the father of 2013," explains Jennifer Berdahl, associate professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

Call it the new "masculine mystique." Just in time for Father's Day, Berdahl completed a study that points to a uncomfortable reality for many dads: Devoted fathers who spend a lot of time caregiving feel ridiculed by co-workers for not being man enough.

Berdahl and her co-researcher, Sue Moon of the Long Island University Post, surveyed 232 middle-class union members about how many hours they spent looking after their children each day, and how much they were taunted for "not being man enough." Their results, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Social Issues, were striking.

More: Record Number Of Breadwinner Moms

They found that men who spent a lot of time with their children were harassed the most -- by far. Men with no children were also harassed a lot, while men who had children but let their wives do most of the caregiving were largely immune from the bullying. After all, they were playing the part of the traditional breadwinning dad.

Women also faced a similar kind of harassment around the issue of caring for children, but the pattern was reversed: Women without children got the worst of it, while mothers who spent a lot of time with their kids experienced the least.

This is particularly worrying in our new world order, where a woman is the sole or primary breadwinner in over 40 percent of homes, according to a 2010 study by the Center for American Progress, and again by a Pew Research poll last month.

In a second study, the researchers surveyed 451 workers in a male-dominated public service organization about how many hours they spend doing housework and caring for children, and how much they were disrespected by co-workers. It found the same correlation: Women were subjected to more mistreatment when they behaved less like traditional mothers, while men took more abuse when they acted less like traditional fathers.

So though caregiving dads might be loved in the home, they might not have an easy time at work. "Men really do report fearing this teasing and social ridicule that they might experience at work if they are going to take leave, or take their kids to the doctor early," says Berdahl, who spent years studying the harassment of female professionals. She decided to study men to see if they also might be harassed -- for spending too much time with their kids, and concludes: "It makes sense that they would be afraid to play these non-traditional roles."

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The worst harassment for men is not from other men it is from women when they are in charge and especially so if you are a single father. A double standard exists where women bosses will give women extra leeway with being late to work or having to leave early to care for their children but when men ask for the same these women go out of their way to be harsh and as uncaring as can be to the point where they will even say things like "choose, be at work when you are supposed to be and do your job or choose to stay home with your kids on welfare" or they say things like "maybe you should just give your kids up to their mother, maternal grandparents or even for adoption". I wish I could say I was just making this up but, I have heard all of these things personally myself and right from those who have also been discriminated against by female bosses and employers.

June 19 2013 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Way to show your male children that self-image does not start with you or them, dads. Tough it out.

June 19 2013 at 6:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to agree with the co-workers, if you are not "man enough" to tell them to stuff it, shut up about it and never say you are "man enough" again for taking care of your kids properly then you ARE NOT man enough.
A real man and father spends as much time with their kids teaching them how to be men and to be proper citizens.
I am a single father of two boys and DARE some dumb ass to say that to me.

June 19 2013 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MR weaver king

lots of men today are lazy and love the idea of staying home while the women goes to work. i think the man should work and if the women wants to fine , but dont make her work to carry youre dead beat ars.

June 19 2013 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is sent from planet Moron to you earthlings.

June 19 2013 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Harrassment? Abuse? Bullying? Where are these people working? This is a stupid article.

June 19 2013 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"they were taunted for "not being man enough."

That's absolutely what's going on with the outsized male-ego in the workforce. The flip side of this macho attitude is that women are also not "man enough" to do traditionally male jobs which is why they are harassed at work. My female friends and I have experienced this at more than one male-dominated workplace. It's two sides of the same coin.

June 19 2013 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

At 67 yrs old, I've had a varied and interesting life, both as a civilian and during 30+ yrs in the Navy Special Boat Teams and, as much as I miss the Navy (and I do), there is nothing to compare with becoming a dad, which happened at 60 yrs old for me. A man takes care of his responsibilities in life: family, work, whatever, but the time I spend with my daughter is the most rewarding experience of all. I wouldn't trade it for anything. My wife, although much younger than I, has fibromyalgia and has many days when she is just nonfunctional due to the pain, so I am Mr Mom a good bit of the time. I don't resent a second of it and I see no conflict between handling those traditionally "less manly" responsibilities (cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc) and any other responsibility. I'd say that those who do, have an identity problem (poor self image?).

June 19 2013 at 1:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CLARK's comment

It's not "unmanly" to take care of your family, whether it's with a paycheck, housework, or attention. I wish people would just see men and women as the "parents" and realize that parents do what's best for their kids.
By the way, one of the best fathers I've ever known was very involved with his two daughters' lives, whether it was babysitting, taking them shopping, or helping with their homework And he was former Special Forces in Viet Nam - Id' agree that, if someone thought he was unmanly, he probably laugh his you-know-what off.

June 19 2013 at 6:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Masculine Mystique????? WTF???? If you can't handle idiots at work who makes fun of you for being a "real man" and yes I mean those of us who are married and have families, then you are only enabling these morons to continue their "wussy" behavior. Man up and start acting like real man.

I've been married for 21 years, and yes there are those who have been married longer but I tell the world that I'm a happily married man and yes I do vacuum the house, cook, clean, change diapers, etc. Gees!!!!

June 19 2013 at 1:21 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
xavier stone

and paddleman shut up already see paragraph below !

June 19 2013 at 12:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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