Richard Petts’ Father Involvement and Gender Equality in the United States: Contemporary Norms and Barriers (Routledge, 2022) focuses on issues of family, work, and gender, with a focus on gender inequality. Women are disadvantaged in both paid and domestic work, due in large part to being primarily responsible for duties within the domestic sphere. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these inequalities, making the issue of reducing gender inequality even more pressing.
Fathers play an important role in contributing to, and perhaps reducing, gender inequality, but barriers to their involvement in family life have received less attention than detailing challenges that mothers face. If men were equally involved in all aspects of domestic life (i.e., were fully engaged dads), women’s burdens would be reduced and perceptions of who is responsible for parenting may change, resulting in greater gender equality. The book focuses on the key issue of father involvement, seeking to understand why fathers are less involved at home than mothers despite an increased desire for fathers to be more engaged parents. This book utilizes recent national survey data, interviews with fathers, and insights from the author’s personal experience as a father to identify current norms of fatherhood within the United States, barriers to father involvement, and strategies to overcome these barriers. Overall, this book argues that by establishing the expectation that fathers will be fully engaged dads as a cultural norm, and by providing structural opportunities for fathers to meet this cultural standard, greater gender equality can be achieved within the United States.
The arguments presented in this book are valuable for scholars in the areas of family, work, and gender, policymakers and business leaders who seek to promote gender equality and work-family balance, and parents who are interested in achieving a more egalitarian division of labor within their own families.
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