Divorced Dads: The Unspoken Workplace Discrimination


working dad
For dads, leaving work early to pick up the kids is nowhere near as acceptable as it is for moms.

There's no denying that regardless of time and progress, men still hold the advantage in the workplace. The tide has turned in women's favor over the years, but a man, on average, will still make more money than a woman who is working the same job. Likewise, women still have to contend with their share of harassment. In these terms, it often seems that men have little to complain about it when it comes to office culture.

Things can be a little different if you're a dad, however. Especially if you're a dad who chooses to be strongly involved and present in your kids' care and upbringing. And even more especially if you happen to be a dad who's divorced. Because divorced dads suffer routinely from one of the last remaining forms of socially acceptable workplace discrimination. I should know—I'm one of them.


For me, and for so many men like me, being an involved parent and being a productive employee can often be at odds. The need to properly raise one's child is something that most modern workplaces do respect and make provisions for—but this respect seems to extend mainly to mothers. For fathers, it seems the message is, "Work first, parenthood second."

In my 15-year career in communications, I've worked in a wide variety of offices. Across the board, there is an unwritten rule—as there should be—that a working mother must always be there for her children first and foremost. Often, moms can negotiate for a special work schedule, which allows them to pick up their kids from school. Leaving early or coming in late on a regular basis is given the green light. Leaving work for doctor's appointments and school functions are regular occurrences and perfectly acceptable excuses with superiors—many of whom, in this day and age, are moms themselves.

Ask any working dad and he will tell you that it is significantly more difficult to win that same unspoken respect that moms often enjoy in the workplace.

Let me state for the record that I do not mean to imply that moms in the workplace have a free ride—this is certainly not true, as women still must often struggle to find the balance between motherhood and career. I am stating that it is much harder for dads to receive this same parental leniency, and that it's a double standard that we need to start working to fix. Keep reading ...

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After spending 11 years as a working father in a variety of environments, I can tell you that it is exceedingly more difficult for me to obtain the same kind of parental leeway granted to female co-workers. For me, and for many men like me, leaving work early to pick up kids, or to attend a PTA meeting, for example, is nowhere near as simple or socially acceptable.

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