An increasing number of men are taking time off from their careers to care for their kids. When these dads decide it is time to reenter the workforce, they will face many of the same challenges that millions of women have been struggling with for decades--how to you overcome that several-year resume gap?
I can't help but wonder if overcoming resume gaps will become easier for men and women as more men need to accomplish the same thing that has been a longstanding, prickly challenge for women. Or will it eventually become easier for men to get back in? Sort of a knock, knock, wink, wink re-entry? An old-boys network kind of re-entry? As I wonder about this, I start thinking about the same sort of questions that I think about when I am perplexed as to why Viagra is covered by many insurance plans when birth control pills are often not covered. Or why men continue to make more money than women for the same job. Inequities are everywhere. As a result, I guess I would not be all the surprised if men one day had an easier time overcoming those years away from desks, meetings, and conference calls.
While this phenomenon of more men staying home is in its infancy as fathers trail-blaze their way to playgroup and Mommy and Me classes, we won't know for years if my theory is right. For now, some men who are ready to go back to work are taking advantage of programs that were designed to help women "on ramp" back to work, according to Maggie Jackson's article in Sunday's Boston Globe, called "On-ramping' not just for women anymore."
While women are the primary participants in these kinds of refresher courses, more men are joining in. Dartmouth, for example, debuted a "Back in Business" program in 2006. Of the 72 participants in the program's first two years, 16 percent were men, according to the article. Lehman Brothers has also seen a jump in the number of men interested in its "Encore on-ramping program," the article said.
Perhaps I should spend less time wondering if, how, or why and focus instead on the fact that there are more programs helping people--mothers and fathers--successfully move back into the work-world.