Ewald, A., Gilbert, E., & Huppatz, K. (2023). Knowing your place: the role of occupational status in fathers’ flexible working. Community, Work & Family, 1-18.

This study explored how fathers’ occupational status shapes their constructions, experiences, and negotiations of Flexible Working. In particular, we examined whether occupational status impacted men’s access to, and the acceptability of using FWAs for the purposes of care. Data from semi-structured interviews with 43 working fathers from diverse occupational roles within the Australian financial sector were analysed using Foucauldian discourse analysis. Findings suggest that fathers’ access to flexibility is contingent upon and shaped by their position in the organisational hierarchy. Fathers in ‘higher-status’ roles reported significant power and agency in their access to and adoption of FWAs. However, a major barrier to their use of flexibility was the discursively constructed expectation that men in these positions should be dedicated to their paid work role and career progression rather than caring for their child(ren). In contrast, men in ‘lower-status’ roles lacked autonomy, agency, and power in relation to accessing flexibility for caring purposes. These fathers reported being closely monitored in their paid working roles, having little flexibility available to them in these roles, and felt trepidatious about even requesting FWAs for caring for their child(ren).