5 Things Dads Can Do To Show They’re Allies to Moms

Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a day when men need to step forward and speak and act in support of an expansive view of equality.

I’m writing as a husband and father of three daughters with a personal and a professional shoutout.

If not for the conversation my wife had with her former business partner in 2013, I wouldn’t have ever labeled myself a Lead Dad. She told him she wanted to start her own firm in three months so they could put the clients first; the next day she was locked out of the company.

We knew she had to start her firm at once, but the question was who was going to be the go-to parent for our two daughters? I raised my hand and said I’d be the Lead Dad. We laughed. But it worked. I could be the go-to parent because I had more control over my schedule as a columnist at The New York Times. Starting a business, she had to work and work and work to tell her story.

But I also put my hand up for our daughters. I wanted them to grow up knowing what their mother had done, their father had supported regardless of traditional expectations. Laura Pollock, you’re a model for our daughters every day!

More recently, I’ve been fortunate to be the co-host of Bright Horizons’s Work-Life Equation podcast, along with the thoughtful, cerebral and witty Priya Krishnan.

Priya recently laid out four ways to call men into the campaign as allies for women:

-> “Spark a conversation among your male friends and question gender norms. Are career choices inherently “male” or “female”? Are roles at home gender based or capability based? If you have children, what do their rooms and toy selections look like? Challenge your own assumptions and those of your peers.

-> Correct what doesn’t feel right – the cat calling, the jokes and the stereotyping. If they are your friends, you should be comfortable enough to talk some sense in them. If they don’t listen, consider finding some new friends.

-> Give women a voice. Recommend women for speaking roles, job promotions, media opportunities and contributors to key decisions. When you’re in a group setting, take that extra moment to scan the room and ask a woman for her opinion. Your invitation may not be necessary, but it will make a difference.

-> Use your voice and reach. Whether on social media, in the workplace, at home, or in your local community, look around you and consider opportunities to support those working toward gender equity. And call out those who are tearing it down.”

Here’s a fifth point I’d add as a man talking to men:

-> Identify Yourself As a Lead Dad. Lead Dads are the go-to parents whatever they do for work; in many cases they’re supporting their wives or partners in their careers. Yet there is still a stigma to doing this. They get called, Mr. Mom or the House Husband in their community; at work they can be seen as less committed. Ignore that. Join Working Moms and Caregivers in the office to parent and care proudly.