Research and impact

The Equal Parenting Project has involved extensive engaged research around the use of family friendly policies in the workplace and gendered attitudes towards child-caring. 

This body of work has included qualitative research in the form of interviews and focus groups with new parents to understand how they construct their roles as parents and how they understand and use the policies available to them. 

Project leads Sarah Forbes and Holly Birkett have also conducted quantitative research nationally, to understand employees attitudes to child-caring and the role of social and organisational cultural norms in their decision making about childcare.  The research has been undertaken with both parents and organisations across a range of sectors and geographical areas of the UK. 

As well as academic articles and conference papers, this research has led to a broad variety of engagement work with Government Department, MP's, Third Sector Organisations, Public Sector organisations and private companies.  Birkett and Forbes’s engagement activities have included running policy workshops in Westminster, contributing to HR conferences and policy advisory events for the private sector and regularly providing specialist advice and support to organisations and government departments. They have recently acted as special academic advisors for BEIS on the update of the 2019 Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey and the 2019 Review of Shared Parental Leave.  They were also special advisors on the BITC Equal Lives Report in 2018 and completed research on behalf of the Government Equalities Office in 2019 to understand what motivates organisations to enhance their Shared Parental Pay offering.

Forbes and Birkett also have a well developed impact case from this research which draws upon multiple pathways to impact.

Research outputs

Forbes, S., Birkett, H., & Smith, P. (2021). What motivates employers to improve their Shared Parental Leave and pay offers? Retrieved from Government Equalities Office, London, UK 

Forbes, S., Birkett, H., Evans, L., Chung, H., & Whiteman, J. (2020). Managing employees during the Covid-19 lockdown: Changing preferences and the future of work (view an accessible executive summary of this report here)

Chung, H., Seo, H., Forbes, S., & Birkett, H. (2020). Working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown: Changing preferences and the future of work.

Birkett, H. and Forbes, S. (2020) Fathers in the Workplace Toolkit

Forbes, S., & Birkett, H. (2019). University of Birmingham research shows take up of Shared Parental Leave is increasing [Press release]. 

Birkett, H., & Forbes, S. (2019). Where’s dad? Exploring the low take-up of inclusive parenting policies in the UK. Policy Studies, 40(2), 205-224.

Birkett, H. and Forbes, S. (2018) Shared Parental Leave: Why is take-up so low and what can be done? 

‘Supporting Managers and Organisations to Increase SPL Take-up” presented at the Government Equalities Office Workplace & Gender Equality Research Programme’s Inaugural Seminars on family friendly policies (2018, 6 June).

Birkett, H. & Forbes, S. (2018, 13 - 16 June). ‘It’s my time’: the effects of maternal gatekeeping on the use of Shared Parental Leave in the United Kingdom. Paper presented at the Gender, Work and Organisation conference, Sydney, Australia.

Forbes, S. & Birkett, H. (2018, 15 - 16 July). The Social Ecological Model of Social Marketing Competition: An examination of Shared Parental Leave uptake. Paper presented at the International Social Marketing Conference, Singapore, Singapore.

Learn more about the Project