Public Release: 

When dad wants to do more than just go to work

Conference at Bielefeld University's Center for Interdisciplinary Research

Bielefeld University

'Many companies still view paternity leave as a lack of commitment to the job, and this leads to career disadvantages,' says Professor Dr. Mechtild Oechsle from Bielefeld University's Faculty of Sociology. How do companies react to 'working dads' who ask their employer to enable them to engage in active fatherhood? How are working dads exposed to discrimination, and how are they supported? The role of companies in promoting active fatherhood is the topic of a conference to be held at Bielefeld University's Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) from March 12-14. Mechtild Oechsle is one of the organizers.

The conference will bring together 60 researchers from 12 nations representing the disciplines of sociology, psychology, economics, political science, and gender studies.

'Men also have to choose between their families and their careers. This is a decision that is becoming relevant for increasingly more men for whom family time and time with children has become so very valuable - something that was relatively unknown among fathers in previous generations,' says Professor Oechsle. 'Men are observing the situation of fathers in our society with an intensive interest, and they want active fatherhood to be something much closer to the norm. Many fathers are envious of how things are organized in Scandinavia and would like to have a socially accepted paternal leave following the Swedish model.' At the same time, according to Oechsle, men also see what career disadvantages mothers have to accept in their working lives when they reduce their working hours in order to spend more time with their families. This is why men often do not decide in favour of a more active fatherhood.

What are the barriers to active fatherhood? What opportunities do fathers have to achieve it, and what scope is available to them? Which actors play a relevant role? How influential are politics and political programmes? These are just some of the questions that will be examined at the conference.

The title of the conference is 'Fathers in Work Organizations: Inequalities and Capabilities, Rationalities and Politics'. It is being held in cooperation with CRC 882 'From Heterogeneities to Social Inequalities' at Bielefeld University. The conference language is English.

Excerpts from the conference programme:

  • March 12th, 15:00 - 15:45: Mechanisms of Inequality in Organizations - An Overview, Prof. Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, PhD, (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA). Professor Tomaskovic-Devey is the current beneficiary of the Anneliese Maier Research Award and is engaged in research at Bielefeld University.

  • March 13th, 9:45 - 10:30: Fathers' Parental Leave and Career in Norwegian Elite Professions, Sigtona Halrynjo, PhD (Institute for Social Research, Oslo, Norway).

  • March 13th, 15:15 - 16:00: Top Managers' Views on Fathers Taking leave, Dr. Laura den Dulk (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands) and Wike Been (Utrecht University, Netherlands).

The media are cordially invited to attend. Please register.

Conference dates:
Thursday, 12 March, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, 13 March, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, 14 March, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Further information is available online at:

Contact for academic queries:
Prof. Dr. Mechtild Oechsle, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Sociology
Telephone: 0521 106 4395

Contact for organizational queries and registration:
Marina Hoffmann, Bielefeld University
Center for Interdisciplinary Research
Telephone: 0521 106 2768

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