Caring Masculinity and the Experience of Parental Leave for Male Civil Servants in Taiwan
Dong-Long Lin(Department of Medical Sociology and Social Work, Kaohsiung Medical University)、Hui-Wen Liu(Social Affairs Bureau, Kaohsiung City Government)
In Taiwan, the Act of Gender Equality in Employment allows a parent of either sex to apply for parental leave; however, the parental leave numbers differ significantly between males and females. According to the literature, the problem is that fatherhood attributes are still shaped by cultural and gender institutions. Because masculinity is the main standard proscribing male behaviors in any setting, this study has focused on how to assist males in breaking through the fatherhood framework as constricted by traditional notions of masculinity. Therefore, this study adopted a masculinity perspective to explore the experience of parental leave of male civil servants, to understand the meaning of masculinity, and to determine the relationship between masculinity and fatherhood.
Ten in-depth interviews with male civil servants employed by Kaohsiung City Government who had applied for parental leave were conducted, and data analysis adopted a thematic approach. There were three major findings. Firstly, the masculinity of a male who applies for parental leave is called “caring masculinity”, and that masculinity is connected to “full-time fatherhood” and “balancing family and work fatherhood”. Secondly, both work protection and gender equity in salary are the social infrastructure that makes “caring masculinity” practicable. Thirdly, any male applying for parental leave contributes to decreasing the postnatal burden and facilitating female recovery. In other words, gender equity and fostering paternity are two sides to one coin, and both are conducive to men applying for parental leave without salary.
This study makes three suggestions: firstly, a positive approach to exploring and advocating “caring masculinity” should be adopted. Secondly, reform of the labor market and reversal of gender inequity in the workplace should be continued. Thirdly, paid paternity leave would be effective in encouraging couples to care for children collectively and thus decrease the care burden for women.
parental leave, caring masculinity, fatherhood, gender equity, fostering paternity, male civil servant