Pete Buttigieg paternity leave attack reveals gender bias

Earlier than U.S. Division of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg became a father of twins this summer time, he made it clear he was going to take paternity leave to spend time with them and his husband, Chasten.

However a month later, he’s going through criticism for not being extra current, as the US should deal with a worldwide supply-chain disaster that has slowed manufacturing and delivery, impacting every little thing from laptop chips for brand new vehicles to grocery procuring lists to vacation present shopping for.

Fox Information ran a narrative about that earlier this month and on Thursday, Fox Information host Tucker Carlson mocked Buttigieg’s choice to take time without work to spend time together with his new child twins, commenting, “Paternity leave, they name it, attempting to determine learn how to breastfeed. No phrase on how that went.” The DOT secretary shot again on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday and in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, calling the work of fatherhood essential.


Buttigieg additionally has stated that he’s made himself out there for pressing authorities issues, together with the crippling supply-chain points, any time of day or evening. His paternity leave started in mid-August.

The individual 14th within the U.S. presidential line of succession is probably going the highest-ranking male authorities official to briefly step away from work to are inclined to new infants. (The latest child within the White Home was John Kennedy Jr. and the way a lot time do you suppose JFK took?) However Buttigieg is hardly the one heavy-hitter to embrace paternity leave. Different notable on-point dads embrace Fb founder Mark Zuckerberg; Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian; Toms founder Blake Mycoskie; and Dwyane Wade, then a Miami Warmth taking pictures guard.

The common American dad takes lower than week off—often the day of the delivery and some days after—in accordance with Richard Petts, a sociology professor at Ball State College and a parental-leave knowledgeable. A protracted leave may be very a lot a place of privilege.

“They’re courageous ones,” he says. “We’re not accepting of males specifically taking lengthy durations of leave. There are assumptions that these are individuals of giant duty and they need to be at their jobs. We stay in very work-first society. They need to be eager about quarterly experiences.”

There’s nonetheless a danger related to taking daddy time. In keeping with a McKinsey survey launched in March, 20% of individuals they spoke to stated the principle drawback with taking leave was the “danger of a profession setback,” although most stated the chance was value it. For a person not on the apex of his skilled life, that makes the prospect much less enticing. These in center administration, participating within the blood sport of workplace politics, might even see any time away from workplace as misplaced alternatives to get forward. That is magnified much more for males who’re simply beginning out of their careers; the “paying my dues” and “be a group participant” mentalities loom giant.

“When males take paternity leave, they get punished,” says Josh Levs, writer of All In: How Our Work-First Tradition Fails Dads, Households, and Companies—And How We Can Repair It Collectively. “You simply had a child. The worst factor is to lose your job or your promotion. They’re fired or demoted or lose job alternatives. Even when it’s out there, the cultural stigma in opposition to it’s so nice.”

He cites male workers who’ve been summoned by bosses and are advised, “We’ve got paternity leave, however nobody takes it,” and factors out that paternity leave shouldn’t a luxurious or controversial.


And never everybody has the chance to even make the selection. The Society for Human Useful resource Administration discovered final fall that whereas 55% of employers present paid maternity leave, solely 45% give paid paternity leave.

If a person can’t afford to step away from work and a paycheck, he gained’t ask for paternity leave at an organization that doesn’t present all or a few of his wage in his absence. Males in lower-paying jobs—or these simply beginning out in higher-paying professions, however not but skilled sufficient to command hefty compensation—fall into this class. In houses the place the person is the first breadwinner, it’s much more acute.

“The overwhelming majority of People don’t have entry to paid leave for that lengthy a time period and most of the people can’t afford can take 6, 7, 8, 12 weeks off with FMLA,” Petts explains, referring to the dozen week of job-protected, unpaid time without work assured by the Household and Medical Leave Act for the delivery, adoption, or foster placement of a kid. “The belief is that the lady is meant to remain house, so it doesn’t apply right here. These are ingrained gender norms, this stress and assumption that males are the monetary suppliers. They should give attention to their carers and ladies must are inclined to childcare.”

That slim considering leaves little room for households during which it’s two males with a brand new child, just like the Buttigiegs, and the place it’s two girls.

In the meantime public notion stays an enormous a part of the difficulty. Ohio State College analysis from April reveals that about 50% of People give a thumbs-up to government-funded maternity leave, however solely one-third stated as a lot for paternity leave.