IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE hosts international event and exhibition on shared parental leave

13 June 2018

Business leaders from across the world have gathered at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) as part of an event to increase men's parental leave participation.

Father reading to child

The event is designed to encourage businesses in the UK to address the imbalance in the support provided for parental leave, through policy and system changes - and by taking a positive approach to flexible working for dads and partners.

UCL is one of the event partners with IOE academics Professor Margaret O'Brien and Dr Katherine Twamley speaking about their research, along with talks from representatives of the Swedish government and Spotify. The talks will explore the use of shared parental leave which allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave, and 37 weeks of pay; either separately or together.

It is believed this approach allows fathers to be more hands-on and re-balance their work and family commitment and could also help to close the gender pay gap too, by enabling mothers to return to work and keep their careers going, while their partner takes on the childcare role.

There are around 285,000 families in the UK who are eligible for shared parental leave, but current estimated take-up could be as low as two percent.

Dr Katherine Twamley's talk explores findings from a survey which revealed 7.4% of expectant mothers who were (self) employed or in education intended to take shared parental leave. The main factors cited for lack of take-up are finances and worries over fathers' careers.

Dr Twamley found that knowledge of and access to shared parental leave is correlated with education, ethnicity and home ownership. She suggests future research and policy design should attend to such issues to ensure equitable access across families.

Johan Bavman - Swedish Dads

The event also includes a photography exhibition by Johan Bävman entitled 'Swedish Dads'. Bävman's photographs illustrate the lives of 23 Swedish dads who chose to stay home with their families for at least six months. The exhibition will also feature 10 'Aussie Dads', also shot and curated by Bävman. This is first time these images have been seen in public.

Through the photographs and quotes from the dads themselves, the exhibition highlights the experience that extended parental leave has given fathers and how their lives have changed for the better as a result.

'Swedish Dads' will also form part of an exhibition 'Who Cares' which opens on 17 June at Southlands Arts Centre.

'Advancing parental leave equality for fathers' was organised by UCL, Parents at Work, the Embassy of Sweden and the Swedish Institute. Norton Rose Fulbright sponsored the event.

Media contact

Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations
+44 (0)20 3108 8516



Bottom image - copyright: ©2018 Johan Bävman