Daddy Privilege – a blind spot bias

by Dec 7, 2021

Daddy Privilege – It is time we recognise this bias


A photo of Elon Musk with a child (presumably his own) has been doing the rounds on social media recently. Accompanying this image has been lots of commentary around men, parenting, and role modelling. This can be summed up across the board with the words “super cute.”  We have to be careful around this because dads and parenting can be a blind spot bias for women.  They are not helping  – they are adulting and parenting. Even I have been found guilty of falling into this trap.



I had my knuckles metaphorically rapped by my own daughter when I unthinkingly commented that my son-in-law was a “hands on Dad” following the birth of my grandson. There should be no other kind she fumed, clutching her post partem c-section scar.  This was clearly some deeply embedded bias surfacing on my part.

I also encountered “Daddy Privilege” on another occasion.  A keynote speaker (male) talked about picking up his kids late from day care and how supportive and sympathetic the staff were.  “Don’t worry about it it’s fine” the staff said.

Yet, the very same ladies gave his wife grief when she did the same.  “We close at 6.30.”

This bias from both men and women is real. It’s seen as going above and beyond, but only if it’s a short-term solution.

Praising men for parenting

Chloe Sexton of Tennessee Bakery, Bluff Cakes shared her story of ” Daddy Privilege”  when her husband did a weekly visit to a supplier, something she does routinely as part of her work, taking her baby with her.

My husband had the day off and he decided to go do it for me, but he also had the baby that day. When I tell you, the way that this man was treated like a hero — A HERO.


daddy privilege

Up to a point

It’s clear that we have dual standards around our expectations for men and child care. At a superficial level, it’s “aww super cute” until they start to assume full responsibility for parenting. Then it becomes something different. Men are penalised for taking parental leave and are very often given grief by their peers for doing so, which serves as a major deterrent. Frequently their bosses talk them out of it, saying taking parental leave will damage their careers.

3Plus offers a portfolio of gender balance solutions which includes working with you to establish an understanding of the unwritten corporate culture.


Forever the cynic I tend to see this is a timely photo of Elon Musk as a PR stunt, coming as it does when Tesla is being sued for rampant sexual harassment. His blatant sexism is been highlighted in this tweet.


This is clearly the sort of FFS comment that most women experience at some point in their professional lives when they hear a smutty comment. However, Musk has almost 62 million followers on Twitter and is the public face of two major tech companies. His tweet has been described as “potentially damaging to the entire sector.”  Only 20% of the Tesla workforce are women.

So perhaps in addition to pitching up to video conferences with a small and very cute child, Musk could make his workplaces safer for his female employees and stop making sexist remarks. Totally.





Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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