Moms who stay home and care for their children have long faced challenges when re-entering the workforce. Now, a new study has revealed that dads who stay home as caregivers to their children face even bigger challenges when looking for work again.
Kate Weisshaar of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a study where she sent hundreds of fictional cover letters and resumes to real jobs available in 50 American cities. The jobs were in five different categories and all of the fake applicants were parents with similar credentials but different work histories. Some resumes stated the person was already employed, others said they were unemployed due to layoffs, and the third group of fake applicants stated they were stay-at-home parents.
This experiment found that the group who identified as a stay at home parents received the least amount of callbacks and interviews. Only 5% of parents who took time off of work to care for their children received a second interview. While this was true for both moms and dads, in more competitive job markets stay at home dads were called back less than a 1/3 of the time. While moms stayed at a consistent 5% callback rate whether the job was competitive or not.
These low numbers for stay at home parents compared to 15% of currently employed parents and 10% of laid-off parents being offered a second interview. Americans see opting out of work, for whatever reason, as lazy and as a liability. There isn't any exception for stay at home parents
Fathers especially are stereotyped as being "flaky" and are fighting against gender norms when they choose to stay home. America has a workaholic culture where men are still the dominant sex when it comes to employment, promotions, and pay. Men who stay home arent the norm but their numbers are growing.
Men who stay home often do so when their spouse makes more money or they happen to get laid off. 40% of all households claim a woman as the primary breadwinner and as women continue to pursue an education at a higher rate, that number will also grow. Still, stereotypes will persist on both sides.
Many past studies have shown that working mothers often deal with a motherhood penalty where they're working because they're not making as much money and receive less positive feedback from superiors. Fathers often get what is referred to as a fatherhood bonus sometimes earning even more money for each child they have.
This study proves that men who choose to stay home are penalized for that choice. Men are not only taking on working stereotypes, but they're also challenging gender roles.
Stay at home dads may be outnumbered by stay at home moms but it's often forgotten they're facing challenges too. What needs to change is our society seeing stay at home parents as the last choice as a potential employee.