Almost twenty years after the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an ostensibly gender-neutral statute, companies are still less likely to offer paternity leave than they are to offer maternity leave. Although women have traditionally faced discrimination in the workplace because they are viewed as inauthentic workers—not fully committed to paid employment—men face the corresponding problem and are viewed as inauthentic caregivers. Men who seek family leave transgress gender norms and risk workplace discrimination and stereotyping. This article makes explicit how the social and cultural contexts in which the FMLA is applied interact to maintain the status quo and produce gendered outcomes at work and at home. The FMLA was expected to promote workplace gender equality by providing genderneutral leave and thus reduce employers' expectations that women are more costly than men because they require special accommodations. Unfortunately, women continue to take significantly more leave than men to care for a newborn child or sick relative. This article argues that that the view of men as providers first and caregivers second encourages discrimination against male caregivers and interacts with overwork and inflexible work schedules to contribute to stereotypical divisions of labor within families. This article further proposes policies, including paid family leave, to promote co-equal caregiving and breadwinning between men and women.
Kelli K. García,
The Gender Bind: Men as Inauthentic Caregivers ,
20 Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/djglp/vol20/iss1/1