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Modern Dads And The Career Risks Of Paternity Leave

A new study finds that fathers who take more than two months of parental leave for the birth of a child see a sharp decrease in promotion opportunities and are often asked to go part-time, a scenario all too familiar to women.

Precious moments.
Precious moments.
Flora Wisdorff

BERLIN â€" A human resources manager for a major automotive group took six months of paternal leave when his first child was born. It won't happen again. If and when the second baby comes along, he'll take no more than two months, if any, he told researchers at the Berlin institute for Social Science.

The HR manager had a particularly bad experience. As soon as he had communicated the duration of his leave, he was given negative performance ratings and was accused of being disloyal, including by his female boss. Other female colleagues indicated to him that it wasn't acceptable for men to take so much time off for the birth of a child.

When he returned from leave, his employer downgraded him to a 30-hour week, 10 fewer than before, and politely suggested that he look for a position elsewhere. His personal assistant already had been transferred to a different division by the time he returned to work. One year later, his situation still hasn't improved.

One in three fathers takes paternity leave

Most fathers say they want to be neither "event daddies" nor "cash cows." And the majority of those contacted for the Berlin Institute study said they suffered no negative career consequences for choosing to take paternity leave. It turns out that it's the duration that makes the difference. Taking more than the usual two months increases the risks.

"Loss of reputation and income are only two of the unpleasant side effects, followed by limited promotion possibilities," the Berlin Institute's new study says.

According to official statistics, the proportion of fathers who take paternity leave of more than two months represents only about 20%, with the rest taking less than two months. And only one in three fathers make use of paid paternal leave months.

Further, the researchers questioned more than 600 people online. Three out of four fathers saw their promotion possibilities unaffected. But, again, this changes with the duration of paternity leave. Among those who took two months, only 16% noticed negative consequences. Among those who took three months or more, it was 27%. The results were confirmed in individual interviews.

No matter whether their companies are considered family-friendly, many fathers see themselves confronted with a restricted field of activity and less responsibility.

"Going on parental leave was like a cut," said one father, a consultant for a major pharmaceutical company who took seven months of parental leave. "When coming back, I had to start over." When his second child came along, he took no more than two months, and for the third baby he skipped parental leave entirely. He and his wife returned to the classic roles with the male as breadwinner.

Balancing baby and work â€" Photo: Daquella Manera

Those who have genuine support from their direct superiors when taking parental leave experience fewer difficulties when returning to the office. Among those who don't have that kind of rapport, 24% report a permanent deterioration of their professional situation.

Even today, many fathers have to deal with negative reactions from their superiors when take time off for the birth of a child: 31% of those who take between one and two months report negative experiences. Among those taking three months or more, 36% experienced rejection, at least in the beginning.

The more difficult it is to replace someone temporarily, the worse the superior's reaction. Even companies with internal policies concerning work-life balance might not include particularly understanding supervisors. "Family-oriented" doesn’t necessarily mean "father-oriented."

According to the study, most superiors act in line with their own point of view, principles and personal view of masculinity, before the company's policy takes effect. One interviewee confirms "it clearly depends on the superior's way of life."

Those who decide to reduce their working hours after children come along â€" according to the study, one in five men does â€" run the risk of being trapped in the "part-time-solution," just like so many of their female counterparts. It's a common problem for women but something men are only starting to realize.

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

4.9%

China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.

📈💥  IN OTHER NEWS

​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.


Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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