Maybe this is why parental leave policies in the U.S. are so far behind: many Americans think that new babies should be the sole responsibility of the mother.
About one in seven Americans say men shouldn’t be able to take any paternity leave, paid or unpaid, according to a new Pew Research Center study.
For comparison, more Americans are supportive of women taking maternity leave—only 3% say women shouldn’t take any leave.
This number is tied to the belief that more Americans think women are better caregivers. Although 71% of Americans know that it’s important for babies to bond with both parents, 53% believe women do a better job at caregiving for babies than men.
It’s older men who are most resistant to the idea of paternity leave. Around 36% of men who are ages 65 and older believe men shouldn’t take paternity leave, while only 10% of men ages 30 to 49 believe this.
Political views play a role, too. The more liberal you believe yourself to be, the more likely you were to support paternity leave, researchers found. Around 26% of conservative Republicans and 13% of liberal Republicans did not believe in paternity leave, compared to 9% of liberal Democrats and 11% of conservative Democrats.
For the parents who would actually take parental leave, the Pew Research Center study found that in the last two years, the average time of leave was longer for women than men. Men would only take an average of one week of leave, while women would take an average of 11 weeks.
The U.S. currently does not federally mandate any paid family leave, but paid parental leave has been shown to increase employee retention, and to keep more women in the workforce. Fathers who took two or more weeks of leave were found to be more involved in the daily upbringing of their child’s life later on.