There was a very interesting feature in Saturday’s Telegraph about a relatively new concept called the Daddy Track. It hails from the United States and in very basic terms, the Daddy Track is the career path taken by men who leave the workforce to care for their children.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear the term Mummy Track (or should I say Mommy Track) has been around for much longer. It will probably sound incredibly familiar to many mothers.
It’s applied to women who take a break from their careers to have children. Once the children are at school, they either never return to the workforce or return part time, missing promotions and earning less money.
Take the above paragraph, replace the word women for men and you have the Daddy Track. With a small but increasing number of men following the traditionally female route, we now have our own track. Hurrah! At the very least we can call this equality, even if it’s not particularly positive.
Before I continue, I have to declare an interest. I was one of the men interviewed for the Telegraph article. When I saw the resulting feature, it really did get me thinking a lot about the Daddy Track and what it means for us guys.
Stay with me here, because I’m going to have to tell a bit of a story. Although I’d never heard of the phrase, I was all too familiar with the Mummy Track before I became a stay at home dad.
I’d worked for organisations that had a keen interest in pensioner poverty. This is an issue that disproportionately affects women because they often take at least five years out of the workforce when they become mothers. Women will also frequently return to part time work and rarely make the required 35 years’ worth of National Insurance contributions that would guarantee a full state pension. Throw a divorce into the mix and things can get very tricky indeed. You can see how female pensioner poverty comes about.
With the knowledge I had from working in this field, I made an informed decision to become a stay at home dad. I knew this would all apply to me. I also guessed I would be killing off my old career.
Shortly before leaving one of my former employers, I recall looking around my department. Of the 90(ish) people in the room, I could count on the fingers of two hands the number that were married. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number that had children. To succeed I apparently needed youth and the distraction of family was going to do little for me. I knew it was time for me to move on and I took the Daddy Track.
Whether you like the phrase or hate it, I’m glad the Daddy Track has made its way from across the Atlantic. As the Telegraph article points out, there are, according to the Office of National Statistics, 234,000 men in the UK who do not work because they are looking after family or home. This is a rise of 2.4% in one year and the figure has doubled in a decade.
Some of these men will be stay at home dads. Some will be caring for elderly or disabled spouses or family members. All of them need to be aware of the Daddy Track and its implications. The more it gets spoken about the better.