Stay at home dad
There is still a marked discrimination between the sexes when it comes to childcare
Women in workplace
Women have traditionally been the ones to give up their jobs to look after children.Wikimedia Commons

A milestone was reached this week with the news that the number of stay-at-home fathers in the UK has doubled in the last ten years.

But, before we rejoice and announce that our work is done, we should remind ourselves that the number of stay-at-home mums still outnumbers dads by a staggering 10 to one.

It's a huge gap and shows just how far we have to go before equality in matters of childcare is actually reached.

Recently released figures from the Office for National Statistics show there are now 229,000 men who have put their careers on hold to care for their children around the clock. Ten years ago, there were only 111,000 men who were willing – or able – to do so. In addition, the numbers show that the number of women staying at home has fallen by 45,000 in the last year – but it's still a whopping figure of 2.04 million.

One in three working mothers are the breadwinners in today's households, according to a 2013 IPPR survey (Institute for Public Policy and Research). This is the highest number since records began – alongside an increase in female employment to 67.2% last year. With 14 million women employed, however, why is there still such a divide as to who gives up their job and who doesn't?

Justine Roberts CEO of Mumsnet, told IBTimes UK that it was a sign of the times that more fathers feel able to make the decision to stay at home with their children.

She said that the decision was based on practicalities – rather than gender.

"When it comes to childcare, families need to make a decision based on what works best for them, practically and emotionally – and empowering dads to take a career break to look after their kids is as important a part of this as supporting mums who want to return to work."

The practical decision is a given – although "empowering" dads is nothing more than breaking the view that there is no gender better suited to bum-wiping, cooking and Calpol. Yet with such practicalities comes the issue of the pay gap.

In the 1990s, and until fairly recently, men were on average, paid more than women. With this in mind, it was more "practical" for the mother to quit work, while the father carried on in the office. Perhaps, as the pay gap begins to close, we will have more dads changing nappies and more women in the boardroom.

Yet to achieve this, we need to go back to the basics of the issue – to break the taboo that being a stay-at-home father as a "kept man".

As we continue to strive for women to be paid equally and hold higher positions, we cannot hand over the stereotype we have been fighting to eliminate. Gender equality is exactly what it says on the tin – that there is no stereotype that defines either parent that decides to stay at home with their child.

Paul Smith, the site creator of, said the decision for him to give up work was straightforward. He said: "As my wife got more out of her job, had the better career and therefore, higher earnings than me, it was clear that I should be the one to give up work and stay at home with the baby."

He added: "We are lucky in that my wife earns a reasonable amount and we don't have an extravagant lifestyle so can afford for me to stay at home. With some economising and some flexible working hours many more parents could find a way to be able to spend more time at home with their children, whether one person works full-time or they both work part-time."

The acceptance of stay-at-home dads, along with the breakdown of the housewife stereotype, means we need to accept that either parent can look after their children without facing stigma.