The current research investigates perceptions of parents who take temporary leave before returning to work after the birth of a child. This research adds to the current literature by experimentally assessing participants’ views of fathers who take leave in addition to mothers who take leave. We used an undergraduate sample (N = 167) from a small regional university in the Midwestern United States to assess participants’ reactions to scenarios involving a mother or a father who went back to work immediately, took a 12-week leave, or stayed at home with the child indefinitely. The results showed that parents who took leave were rated more positively than stay-at-home parents and working parents. Parents who took leave were also rated as more competent than stay-at-home parents and more warm than working parents. Further, parents who took leave were expected to be less successful in their careers than working parents but more successful than parents who stayed at home. Participants had a more favorable overall impression of parents who took leave when that parent was of the same gender as themselves. Additionally, female participants were more favorable about mothers and fathers breaking traditional gender roles than were male participants. This research supports the idea that traditional views of mothers and fathers may be changing. Implications for work and government policies that are supportive of mothers and fathers taking family leave are discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 23, 2010
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