Parental Constructions of Masculinity at the Transition to Parenthood: The Division of Parental Leave Among Austrian Couples

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Eva-Maria SCHMIDT, University of Vienna, Austria
Irene RIEDER, University of Vienna, Austria
Ulrike ZARTLER, University of Vienna, Austria
Rudolf RICHTER, University of Vienna, Austria
Men and masculinity are considered a key factor in changing gender inequality at the transition to parenthood. Prior research on gendered division of parental leave concentrated on fathers’ perspectives. This paper includes perspectives of fathers and mothers who make use of parental leave in different ways and asks how masculinity is jointly constructed, how these constructions are linked to the use of parental leave and if and how they are oriented towards hegemonic masculinity. The analysis is based on qualitative longitudinal data from Austria. We conducted 44 interviews with 11 couples before and after birth when decisions concerning parental leave were made. Our case reconstructions reveal that taking leave did not necessarily challenge but rather enhance hegemonic masculinity. Parents considered parental leave a central element of masculinity as long as it suited fathers’ needs and circumstances permitted. The decisions for sharing parental leave were father-centred as both partners valued father’s leave higher than mother’s.