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Muted Voices of Invisible Men: The Impact of Male Childlessness

Robin A. Hadley (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Work-Life Inclusion: Broadening Perspectives Across the Life-Course

ISBN: 978-1-80382-220-4, eISBN: 978-1-80382-219-8

Publication date: 5 February 2024


The vast bulk of the discourse surrounding reproduction is centered on women. Yet, the rate of childlessness in the United Kingdom (and much of the world) is higher among men. Recently, there has been an increased focus on fatherhood and fathering in academia, policy, practice, and the general media. However, data on men who do not become fathers has been excluded and their experiences minimized and dismissed. Infertility research has shown that failure to achieve the high social status of parenthood has the similar effects on mental and physical health as a diagnosis of life-threatening illness. In this chapter, I will draw on two qualitative research studies to show how not achieving the pronatalist ideal of parenthood impacts on men’s identity, sense of self, behaviors, health and well-being and social networks across the life course. The workplace is an arena where people who do not fit socio-cultural norms and expectations are overtly and/or covertly stigmatized and discriminated against through policy, working practices and everyday interaction between groups and individuals. I will argue that failing to acknowledge men’s experience of non-reproduction has a significant impact on both individuals and institutions alike.



Hadley, R.A. (2024), "Muted Voices of Invisible Men: The Impact of Male Childlessness", Wilkinson, K. and Woolnough, H. (Ed.) Work-Life Inclusion: Broadening Perspectives Across the Life-Course, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 135-146.



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Copyright © 2024 Robin A. Hadley