Will Mark Zuckerberg Take Paternity Leave?

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced via Facebook that his wife, Priscilla Chan, was pregnant with their first child. When he posted the news on the sleepy summer Friday, websites scrambled to break the happy story. And, while the headlines were almost entirely congratulatory, Mic's Sophie Kleeman was quick to cry foul. Why was no one asking Zuckerberg the same question they so pointedly threw at Marissa Mayer when she announced she was pregnant with her first child, shortly after taking the head job at Yahoo. Can Zuckerberg have it all?

"Let's be real," she wrote. "No one is going to question Zuckerberg's leadership capabilities as he prepares for parenthood or even takes paternity leave to spend time with his daughter."

It is true that Zuckerberg has not been asked how he will be able to juggle it all. And it will be interesting to see how he balances work with raising a new family. Facebook offers some of the best paternity leave of any U.S. company. New parents — male and female — can take up to 14 weeks paid time off, and they receive $4,000 to spend on the child, along with subsidized day care, and the ability to work from home. (Chan, who is a pediatrician at UCSF, will likely only receive six-weeks paid leave, but can take up to 12 weeks unpaid.)

Research proves the importance of parental leave, and for both parents being home to help raise a new baby in its first weeks of life. Just this summer, MenCare released a report on the state of the world's fathers that outlines just how essential paternity leave is — for the health of the child and the success of the mother. Yet fathers face many of the same difficulties managing work-life balance as mothers. In the New York Times this week, Claire Caine Miller wrote about millennial men and their desire to be equal partners in child rearing, though the reality is far different. Often times, they don't have the same benefits as women, and our workplace culture is not set up to support men who want to be equal caretakers (to be fair, it's not ideally set up to support mothers either).

It will be interesting to see if Zuckerberg — who has long been upheld as the gold standard millennial manager — will take the full 14 weeks leave to spend time with his daughter, and normalize male parental leave in the process. He received much praise on Friday when he made his happy announcement and shared the intimate details of their struggle to conceive, including that Chan had suffered three miscarriages. The topic of infertility is not one openly discussed, similar to how men rarely discuss their struggles to achieve work-life balance.

Let's be real: No one can have it all —even if you are a white male CEO — but that shouldn't mean we can't aspire for better family policies in the workplace.

Correction: In an earlier version of this piece, we incorrectly stated that the U.N. released the report on the state of the world's fathers. The organization MenCare produced the campaign in conjunction with Promundo and Sonke Gender Justice, with Rutgers, Save the Children, and the MenEngage Alliance serving as Steering Committee members. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.

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