Card image cap
Card image cap

The stay-at-home father : a new masculine role ?

Myriam Chatot

Research Framework: Despite advocacy in favour of the equal sharing of domestic labour and family responsibilities, women are still overwhelmingly in charge of childcare and housework; for a man to become a “stay-at-home father” is a reversal of traditional roles.
Objectives: This article aims to understand how traditional gender roles shift in couples in which the father stays at home, examining how these fathers and their partners relate to the respective roles of resource provider and family care provider, and more broadly to masculinity and femininity.
Methodology: To this end, we build upon the results of a quantitative survey based on semi-directive interviewing, that was led in France among twenty-five fathers in heterosexual couples with children, who have not worked in at least the last six months.
Results: Results suggest that stay-at-home fathers are in a hybrid position as pertains to gender norms: between transgression, with their adoption of a role that is perceived as feminine, and reaffirmation of their belonging to the masculine gender, through showcasing activities or roles that are characterized as masculine. Likewise, even though their feminine partners are assigned the resource purveyor role in these couples, they do not appear to forsake the caregiver role.
Conclusions: These stay-at-home fathers seem to adjust their role, conciliating the role of caregiver and provider of resources, and privileging the more typical masculine aspects of a provider of care.
Contribution: This exploratory study suggests that measures meant to more fully engage fathers by way of parental leave associated to early childhood may be efficient.