It's interesting to me that in so many of these discussions about whether women should be SAHMs or WAHMs or 'working mothers' (part-time or full-time), and whether doing one or the other is consistent with being a good feminist (and/or mother), the role of men is so rarely mentioned except as an after thought.
I don't claim to be across all the conversations. I do often read that fathers should do their share or the housework and caring (particularly when both parents are working), and less often that they should understand that partners who are looking after their kids and homes all week, do not want to do all the caring & housework to be done during nights and weekends.
Lately I've read that mothers should be sure to nurture their careers, if not for their own future selves (post empty-nest or divorce), then to ensure there are women with caring responsibilities in the power structures of business and government, and to set good feminist role models for their daughters (and sons, is occasionally added).
But rarely do I read discussion of men's role in changing the workplace, and in providing good role models.
What I would like to see is more men working part-time, more men taking 'career breaks' to spend time caring for young children, whether that means two months or two years, more men taking time out during the day to attend school plays, doctors appointments, or to listen to kids read in class.
Why do men need to do more of this? Is it to be good role models for their kids? Sure. To be involved and not miss their kids' childhoods? Definitely. To make it more realistic for their partners to have rewarding careers too? Absolutely. To ensure that both partners have a good understanding of both inside & outside the home work? Yeah, that too.
But the number one reason we need more men to work part-time? Because workplaces are not going to change fast when it's just for women. You want workplace flexibility? You want rewarding careers for people who don't work 60 hour (or even 40 hour) weeks? You want mangers to learn how to handle and support team members who work part-time? Then make sure men, as well as women, are demanding those options.
Yes, many workplaces are becoming more flexible already. In many cases there are already options for women to work part-time on returning from maternity leave (in countries like Australia where we have government mandated maternity leave), options to do some work from home, and flexible work hours.
And there are many women taking advantage of those options. But as long as it is primarily women using that flexibility, it will be still be a career stopper. It will still be resented. It will still mean women missing out on promotions, career building opportunities and support. It will still mean meetings routinely being scheduled outside of school hours. And it will still mean that men taking advantage of those options experience all those negative effects as well.
But when lots of men start to work part-time, things will change. Just like when men start to dominate a profession the status and pay goes up.
It may not be fair, and it may not be easy, but at the moment, it's the way the world works.
He also worked part-time from when I went back to work after Liam was born right up until after Eliane was born (this photo is from when Mikaela was about six months old), but he's found it harder to go back to part-time work this time. He's currently doing four days, but working late far more frequently than I like.