Sex Roles

, Volume 72, Issue 9–10, pp 462–476 | Cite as

Reactions Toward Men Who Have Taken Parental Leave: Does the Length of Parental Leave Matter?

  • Alexandra FleischmannEmail author
  • Monika Sieverding
Original Article


There is some evidence from research in the US that the work-related characteristics of men who take parental leave may be evaluated negatively. In 2007, Germany introduced a new law that encourages men to take parental leave by granting 2 extra months for the second parent to stay home. Since the introduction of this law, the proportion of fathers taking parental leave has increased substantially, but the majority of men take only the minimum of 2 months. We investigated how taking a parental leave affected perceptions of men who applied for a job that required high qualifications and whether a long parental leave of 12 months would lead to backlash effects. In two experimental studies, 203 students in business-related subjects (105 women, 98 men) in South-Western Germany rated vignettes of male applicants on gender role attributes (agency, communion) and work-related characteristics. The applicant took either 0, 2, or 12 months of parental leave. A parental leave resulted in higher communion and likeability ratings but did not make a difference for ratings of agency, respect, competence, or hiring probability. Contrary to our hypothesis, a long parental leave (12 months) compared with a short parental leave (2 months) did not lead to backlash toward the men. The results indicate that in Germany, a country where parental leave for fathers is encouraged, gender role attitudes have changed, and men thereby have more gender role options.


Parental leave Fathers Gender role attributes Backlash Work-related characteristics 


Author Note

Alexandra Fleischmann, Institute of Psychology, Heidelberg University, Hauptstr. 47–51; Monika Sieverding, Institute of Psychology, Heidelberg University, Hauptstr. 47–51.

Alexandra Fleischmann is now at the Department of Psychology, University of Cologne.

Part of this data has been presented at the 49th congress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie, 23th of September, 2014, Bochum, Germany.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Heidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

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