Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sweden wants gender equality in child-rearing

A NY Times essay reports:
In Sweden, where 8 in 10 fathers take parental leave, it has become “very uncool” for middle-class dads to depend on moms’ help in consoling a crying baby, Petra Persson, a Swedish economist at Stanford University, told me recently. “Being seen as an equal parent is now a badge of pride for men,” she said.

The Swedish government is experimenting with more incentives to stop traditional gender roles from taking hold right after birth. Not only are 2 of the generously paid 13 months’ parental leave reserved for each parent, families also get a bonus for sharing the leave more equally. The maximum payment — about €1,540, or $2,000 — goes to those working a 50-50 division.

A small but growing number of Swedish couples now work part time right from birth, building child-care expertise jointly as they go along.

Sweden wants a gender reset for a whole country, yet the view that mothers are more important for children than fathers dies hard.
She says that she abandoned her small kids to take a job at Harvard, and they did just fine.

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