New fathers, ideal workers? New players in the field of father‐friendly work organizations
Balan, C., van den Brink, M., & Benschop, Y. (2023). New fathers, ideal workers? New players in the field of father‐friendly work organizations. Gender, Work & Organization, 30 (3), 957-981. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12930
This article explores novel forms of proactive support for fathers in organizations and analyzes how newly instituted organizational promoters of father-friendliness in Germany (organizational consultants, fathers' representatives, and fathers' networks) legitimize and strengthen organizational acceptance of fathers' use of family-friendly workplace arrangements. Bringing together the notions of organizational masculinity, the ideal worker norm, and postfeminism, the paper focuses on caring formations of postfeminist masculinity at work and how they contribute to gender change in organizations. The analysis shows that organizational promoters construct father-friendliness in three ways (I) by constructing a new, “caring” organizational masculinity, (II) by creating organizational value for care-related practices, (III) by framing father-friendliness as a prerequisite for gender equality. Our theoretical argument is that configurations of positive masculinities are possible within a postfeminist culture, and they produce incremental yet limited gender change through a reshaped organizational masculinity and a reframed “ideal worker” within organizations. The study of a rather unique group of change agents in organizations shows how additional offerings for fathers might contribute to changing gendered assumptions about care in organizations.