Paternal Leave and Part-Time Work in Austria: Rearranging Family Life

Gerlinde Mauerer

Realizing gender equality and parenthood still seems to be a contradictory endeavour. In consequence, family policies in Europe focus on paternal involvement and increasing women’s participation in the labour market. Nevertheless, consequences of gender pay gap on family arrangements still set limits to these policies.
This chapter reveals results of qualitative research on paternal leave practices and fathers’ involvement in the family in Austria. The empirical data set includes 36 guided interviews with fathers on paternal leave, 12 with female partners, 16 with human resources managers and 14 follow-up questionings with part-time working men and women. The research investigates effects of long-term leave arrangements on the distribution of family work, gainful employment and individual interests.
Mainly best practice models in undoing gender in family and work arrangements are explored. Subsequently, a high proportion of good earning fathers and couples with tertiary education are represented in the sample. Nevertheless, quantitative studies in Austria confirm higher proportions of fathers aged 40 plus on paternal leave. They take this decision mainly as a ‘tribute to the family’, once or twice in a life-time.
However, long-term care data on work-family-life balancing currently do not show significant changes in gendered patterns. By contrast, gender disparities are still reproduced in the labour market. Theoretically, the chapter shows the impact of gender studies, feminist theories and sociology of the family on realizing gender equality in private and public spheres. It outlines recommendations for family policy makers and for readers interested in relations between realizing work–life balance and gender budgeting.

Institut für Soziologie
ÖFOS 2012
504007 Empirische Sozialforschung
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