Where Are All the Dads?

A question I find myself asking so often

Kerala Taylor
4 min readJan 25, 2022


Photo via Canva.

I had three dad sightings during a recent service event at my children’s school. I observed them from a distance as they piled yard debris into large paper bags, wondering if they had any special markings or behavioral traits that set them apart from other dads in their clan.

Dad sightings at schools are perplexingly rare. Of the 15 or so parents that showed up to last weekend’s grounds clean-up, 12 were moms. I’m no longer surprised by the lopsided ratio, but it continues to confound me.

In a day and age when the majority of mothers work outside the home, one might expect mothers and fathers to show up to school events in roughly equal proportions. Dads, I’ve found, reliably show up to sports games and school plays. But any event that involves the word “service” or the acronym “PTA” seems to send them scurrying in the opposite direction.

Our schools, much like our homes, are still very much the domain of women. Teachers are mostly women. PTAs are mostly women. And it’s mostly women who fundraise and volunteer.

The pattern extends beyond schools to the school-adjacent domain of birthday parties. For three years, I let my husband off the Birthday Party hook. He was in graduate school and needed weekends to study, so I welcomed any activity that involved getting my children out of the house for more than two hours at a time.

But as I made the rounds, I noticed a disturbing pattern: my husband was not the only dad missing. I knew for a fact that other dads were not in school; they worked jobs just as I did, as did nearly all their partners.

Yes, there were almost always some dads. These dads were usually in attendance with their partners. Of the scant smattering of fathers that attended solo (usually one or two, if any), chances were that he was divorced, and the birthday party happened to fall during his weekend with the kids.

I know there are lots of dads out there who are earnestly striving for equity. I know they often feel confounded because their partners are still stressed and disgruntled. Achieving an equitable division of labor within the home, particularly an equitable division of emotional labor, can be messy and fraught with…



Kerala Taylor

Award-winning writer. Interrupting notions of what it means to be a mother, woman, worker, and wife. Subscribe: https://keralataylor.substack.com