Sexism is not a one-party issue. Expectations to fulfill gender role requirements do not only negatively affect women, but men as well. The cards we give to fathers and mothers on their respective holidays exemplify how we view their roles as a society—views that may act as a barrier to men and women’s familial and workplace fulfillment. For example, we tell fathers on Father’s Day that they are providers and protectors  whose wisdom, toughness, and strength  maintain their families. They are bearers of respect and integrity . Children’s excitement because “Daddy’s home”  is a popular theme in Father’s Day cards, a theme which is absent from Mother’s Day cards because mothers are assumed to have been in the home all day. In fact, 31% of the English cards specifically for fathers for Father’s Day on Hallmark.com have messages that value stereotyped qualities of fathers.
On the other hand, the messages in 37% of Mother’s Day cards honor mothers for their expected qualities. Mothers are sweet and full of joy and comfort . They are associated with love  and are consistently shown with their children  and in kitchens . Mother’s Day is a time for them to catch a break from the usual stresses of the home  since their full-time jobs are that of a homemaker .
The debate over women’s place in the workplace versus their place in the home has been highly publicized this year, highlighted by the recent Pew report  stating that 40% of family breadwinners are mothers, and by the release of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book, Lean In . So where do fathers fit in? Men often feel as if they must be the primary providers  for their families, barring them from taking time off of work to be with their children. They also may feel guilty asking for time off because bosses assume that wives will choose to stay at home. When a dad does become the primary caretaker, friends and family often see his transition as temporary  and question when the father will go back to work. Even people with “egalitarian” views have biases  when it comes to stay-at-home dads—they see male caregivers as warmer than female caregivers, and they perceive these fathers as experiencing more appreciation and gratefulness for their work at home. This finding points to the fact that even those who approve of and welcome male caregivers still see them as unusual and attribute their willingness to be at home to their generosity.
While fathers are increasingly staying at home with their children, stereotypes still persist. Studies show  that those who are more likely to believe in less traditional forms of motherhood and fatherhood were raised in households that bent gender roles in terms of parental duties. If we continue to move in this direction, will we eventually end up in a place of equality? If we continue to praise our parents for maintaining important but rigidly different roles, as we do in cards, how might we seek to eliminate the stigma that occurs when a parent desires to act outside of his or her role?