Jessica Pratezina, one of the co-researchers on this project, has recently published an article in the journal Relational Child and Youth Care Practice.
"The least important person in the room":
Father involvement as a critical factor in gender equality."
In the decades since Hochschild and Machung (2012) first conceived of “the second shift”, the unequal distribution of care work among mother-father co-parents has been a topic of great concern to scholars, advocates, and mothers themselves. Despite slow progress towards greater equality, mothers still take on most of the housework, childcare, kin-keeping, household management, and mental/emotional labour. This imbalance has far-reaching consequences that impact women’s wellness, financial stability, career aspirations and achievements, and relationship satisfaction. Yet, increased father involvement in the home is not promoted as a factor in gender equality and few policies, programs, or practitioners advocate for the redistribution of care-work as a means to mitigate the burden placed on mothers. Even in the discourse and practice of child and youth care professionals, this unequal distribution of care is most often construed as an individual relationship issue instead of a complex social problem linked to gendered norms and expectations around being a “good mother” or “good father”, as well as to a host of other societal conditions such as workplace policies that effectively sustain the status quo. Mothers are often positioned as the presumptive, “natural,” default parents, while failure to highlight the important roles that fathers can and often want to play reinforces gender inequality. Child and youth care practitioners can be strong advocates for women’s equality by interrogating their own practice and considering the ways that mother-centrism reifies rather than reduces gender inequality in parenting relationships and beyond.