Most working mothers (62%) prefer to work part time, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. Working fathers, not so much. Only 21% of them say they’d rather work part time than full time.
Rick Dernberger is one of them. For a long time after they had children, he and his wife Becca both worked full time. Whenever one of the kids got sick, “we’d have fights over who had the most important day,” he says. “One day she whimsically said, ‘Why don’t you quit work?’ That had never occurred to me, but as soon as she said it, I knew it was right. She was making more and she enjoyed her job more.”
For the last seven years, the arrangement has been working for the Dernbergers. Rick enjoys the mix of parenting four daughters (ages 6 – 20), counseling college students, and helping entrepreneurs get new business loans. Being a part of all the details of his daughters’ daily lives has been especially rewarding—and an opportunity that most dads don’t have.
The Pew research didn’t ask men why they don’t want to work part-time, but it’s not hard to guess a few reasons. Cultural norms change slowly. Most men had dads who worked full time so, like Rick, the option might not even be on their radar screen. Even if men do consider it, the decision may be driven by finances: men still make more, on average (women make about 77 cents for every dollar men make).
Still, some men have made the switch. At Herman Miller, .5% of male employees in the U.S. currently work part time; 6.3% of female employees do. In our international division, 1.6% of employees work part time, and all are women.