Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who has Armenian roots, wants new fathers to take paternity leave and help care for their families following the birth or adoption of a new child.
"Nearly one in four employed women giving birth in the United States is back at work within two weeks. Only 9 percent of work sites in the United States offer paid paternity leave to all male employees, and 76 percent of fathers are back to work within a week after the birth or adoption of a child," Ohanian says in an article he penned for The New York Times.
"The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t mandate some form of paid family leave. But even in countries that provide parental leave for fathers, a study conducted by Promundo, an international nonprofit, found that fewer than half of new dads take advantage of the full benefit — though the same study found that most dads want more time at home in those first months after a child’s birth."
The short answer to why men aren’t they taking the leave they’re entitled to is stigma, he says.
"Men are conditioned to be breadwinners, exclusively — and another mouth to feed calls for more bread on the table (to say nothing of college tuition) — so off to work we go. Our sense of duty is often fear-based: Men assume their bosses will frown on paternity leave, so we don’t dare to go there. A recent study conducted by my friends at PL+US, a national paid-leave advocacy group, found that 84 percent of expectant fathers plan to take leave, but only half believe their employer supports them. Nearly a third of dads think that taking leave could negatively impact their career. We could miss out on a promotion. We could become obsolete. We could get fired. Career fear is powerful," the article continues.
"All people deserve fulfilling work and close family ties. No dad should feel forced to wholly prioritize work over family at a time as important as the arrival of a new baby — a time that is not only critical in the beginning, but has far-reaching impact years down the line. Getting dads (and in turn, families) off on the right foot begins at birth, and it can’t just be up to individual businesses to ensure that happens. We need a federal bill that mandates quality paid family leave for everyone — birth parents, adoptive parents and caregivers alike."