I heard an interesting factoid from a colleague today, who had heard it in turn from someone in the UC Advance Program for addressing gender equity issues among our faculty: Apparently, when women take maternity leave, their research productivity typically decreases during the leave. Not much of a surprise. But when men take paternity leave, their productivity typically increases. The obvious implication (though I don't know anything about whether it can be supported by data) is that the men are paying less attention to their kids than the women are, and take advantage of the break from teaching to spend more time on their research interests.

Not sure what if any policy conclusions should be drawn from this. I mean, obviously, I think encouraging faculty to have families by allowing such leaves is a good thing, and I think the gender-neutral language that allows such leaves for both men and women is also good in that it encourages men to participate more than they otherwise would in their child-rearing duties. Maybe we should look into achieving similar productivity boosts for the women. Maybe we should somehow take account of this phenomenon when we later evaluate the tenure and promotion cases of these faculty, try to avoid penalizing the women for something that hurts their research portfolio more than the men. Or maybe we should look into getting the men to take their childcare duties more seriously. Or maybe this is just one of those instances where men and women act differently and we shouldn't try to fix a system that isn't broken.


If the baby's being breast-fed (which seems to be popular these days), then that definitely impacts how much more time the mother spends as opposed to the father. Maybe in the future fathers will produce milk too, which will even the tables...
None: other explanations?
Isn't there a simpler explanation? Most men who take parental leave go home to a house where a woman is also there, either as stay-at-home mother or on parental leave herself. On the other hand many women who take parental leave go home to a house in which the father is still working. Hence fathers on parental leave generally confront half-as-large a parental load at home as mothers on parental leave.
11011110: Re: other explanations?
Good point — let's not overlook the obvious.