Can Fathers' Parenting Change Gender? -the Work-Family Life of Japanese Fathers

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mariko TATSUMI, Osaka Prefecture University, Japan
For working mothers in the nuclear family, it is important whether fathers take care of their children. In my interviews with fathers, some said they take care of their children almost as much as mothers. They recognize the importance of their wives’ work, and change their work style to fit with the requirements of childcare. However, their level of responsibility and the amount of work they have are the same as those of other males at their workplace due to Salaryman masculinity.

Salaryman masculinity is the hegemonic masculinity in Japan. Salaryman are protected by career-long employment and a seniority system, and take on the role of the breadwinner leaving domestic duties to his wife. However, childcare is the important care for inevitable dependency relationships, regardless of gender. This means that fathers are expected to work hard as Salaryman, and face a paradox between their work and childcare. Yet they don’t recognize this paradox, and they don’t request that their company accommodate their parenting needs as workplaces normally do for mothers.

It is important for fathers who would like to actively care for their children whether their wives recognize the importance of fathers’ childcare. Most mothers are the gatekeepers of their family, and can control the degree of fathers’ parenting. In one of my interviews, I learned that a mother decreased her husband’s hours of childcare because she believed that he has to work hard as Salaryman in his workplace. Consequently, Salaryman masculinity in fathers’ workplace determines both their work styles and their parenting.

It is hard for fathers to take care of their children such as mothers because they have to work as Salaryman. Therefore, in order to change notions of gender in families, we need to research not only about families, but also the workplaces.