having it all all

Take Us to Quebec, Where the Men Change Diapers

Photo: David Chapman/Corbis

Move aside, Sweden and Norway. There’s a new paradise of gender parity for us Leaners In and Havers of It All to fantasize about, and this one’s conveniently located directly to our North. According to the New York Times Magazine, paid paternity leave reforms in Quebec are transforming men into moms — against their better nature and all evolutionary explanation.

The only wrinkle is that in order to motivate men to take parental leave you have to not only pay them to take it, but also threaten financial penalty for not taking it. (That is, a quota of paid parental leave available only to fathers that gets wasted if they don’t take it.) Otherwise, the flex-time work-balance fantasy espoused by Anne-Marie Slaughter only appeals to women, writer Catherine Rampell explains, creating a second class of part-time or “pink-collar” workers that will never rise to top positions, as it has in Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.

“In a regime where anyone can go part time, where it’s hard to get rid of people if they do, employers might sort on the front end and not hire people they think are likely to want to go part time, which usually means women,” Harvard economist Lawrence F. Katz told Rampell.

But once you start paying men to be parents, (and to not not be parents), they treat it like a job, and they’re good at it. Rampell writes:

“A striking new study by a Cornell graduate student, Ankita Patnaik, based on a new paid paternity-leave quota in Quebec, found that parents’ time use changed significantly. Several years after being exposed to the reform, fathers spent more time in child care and domestic work — particularly ‘time-inflexible’ chores, like cooking, that cut into working hours — than fathers who weren’t exposed to the reform. More important, mothers spent considerably more time at work growing their careers and contributing more to the economy, all without any public mandates or shaming.”

Don’t forget that these highly evolved men speak French! Moving to Quebec: a promising back-up plan for women who failed to nab a Princeton man during their peak nubility.

Take Us to Quebec, Where the Men Change Diapers