As part of the Gender & Behavioural Insights Programme, we ran field trials and lab studies with several partners to understand how to successfully encourage men to take more parental care wherever they would like to do so.
We partnered with Santander and the National Childbirth Trust to test real world interventions.
The research suggests that the following actions are effective for employers to take:
- Let men know that they are legally entitled to take up Shared Parental Leave
- Simplify parental leave processes and provide straightforward explanations of how to access them
- Share high levels of local support for taking parental leave with men in the organisation
- Share prompts and practical tools to help couples discuss sharing parental care at timely points through pregnancy.
Simply telling men that their peers support parental leave and flexible working, increases their intention to share care
Flexible working and returners: What employers told us
The rise of returners: New dynamic norm opens door to gender equality in the workplace
The benefits of rebalancing childcare
Supporting men to take longer parental leave and work flexibly
Whilst there are a range of barriers contributing to men’s lower uptake of parental leave and flexible working, one explanation could be that, while men privately want to take more paternity leave and work flexibly, and are supportive of others who do, they underestimate support for these behaviours among their co-workers - a case of pluralistic ignorance. We sought to find out whether pluralistic ignorance occurs in relation to men’s parental leave and flexible work uptake at Santander UK, and if so, whether providing feedback on actual beliefs among peers would affect men’s intentions to engage in these behaviours in the future.
Increasing men's involvement in parental care
We partnered with NCT, a charity for parents in the UK, to test ways to increase men’s intended uptake of parental leave and participation in childcare and housework. We ran a two-armed randomised controlled trial (n = 1,500) reaching first-time parents through NCT’s pregnancy newsletter. Subscribers in the intervention group received behaviourally-informed content about parental leave, and sharing housework and childcare. The control group received the pre-existing newsletter.