Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Friday he plans to take two months of paternity leave after his daughter is born, amid an ongoing national debate about gender equality and paid leave policies.
“This is a very personal decision, and I’ve decided to take 2 months of paternity leave when our daughter arrives,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook Friday.
“Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” he continued. “At Facebook we offer our US employees up to 4 months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year.”
It’s not the first time Zuckerberg has opened up his family life in a clear effort to start a conversation. In July, Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, previously disclosed that she had experienced three miscarriages. “We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well,” Zuckerberg wrote then.
Several studies show that men of Zuckerberg’s generation are taking a more egalitarian approach to childrearing – that is, when policies allow them to. A study published in the American Sociological Review in February found that the majority of young men and women said they wanted to equally share work and family responsibilities, but that women were more likely to scale back their plans when a lack of family-friendly policies made that harder.
A recently published study drawing on the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce found that although traditional gender roles are on the decline across the board, ”the attitudes of men in dual-earner couples have changed the most.”
Millennial men – those under 29 when surveyed in 2008, a demographic that would include Zuckerberg – are spending more time with their children than their older counterparts, including those only a decade older. But as a result, their reported level of feeling conflict between work and family has risen significantly over the past 30 years, even as it’s stayed basically the same (and high) for women.
In March, Facebook’s second-in-command, Sheryl Sandberg, launched the Lean In Together campaign to bookend her bestselling book, “Lean In,” with an exhortation for men to step up. “In order for women to be seen as leaders, we’re also going to have to support men as caregivers,” Sandberg said then.
Facebook’s generous policies aside, the United States is the only wealthy country that doesn’t require paid family leave, an issue Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both offered policies to address. One commenter on the Zuckerberg post, Maggie Kuffner, wrote to congratulate Zuckerberg and Chan, but added, ”Please, consider using your voice and influence to bring paid parental (moms and dads, to be clear) leave to more American families. Offering the benefit to your employees is a laudable step, but you are uniquely positioned to positively influence other employers, and ultimately the federal government.”