Can men take a break?

Is there a bias working against men who have employment gaps on their CV?

Career breaks appear to be gaining acceptance in the working world. Even LinkedIn allows users to spotlight gaps in their work history on their profiles. Nevertheless, we must consider if resumes with large employment gaps are perceived differently by recruiters, depending on whether the candidate is male or female. Are women expected to have some sort of gap in their career history and contrarily men expected to have few if no gaps at all?

According to an article in the online business portal Mint, career breaks for women average 2-15 years while those for men range from 6 months to 3 years. This reveals two things: women have a hard time building a career for themselves and men have a hard time explaining a break. When societal expectations shift, allowing men to be considered as equal partners in a relationship, is when their lives as husbands, partners, fathers, brothers and sons, outside of work will gain more acceptance, allowing men to finally take a break.

It’s a tricky issue to address at interviews. Women tend to get defensive and it is expected of them, but that doesn’t work for men as they are perceived to be inauthentic and excuse givers. Once a gap becomes the reason for a person to lose their chance, it becomes harder and harder to explain.

Is this a double standard, an unperceived bias, that we are guilty of perpetuating? Are men with career gaps viewed differently from other male or female candidates? It’s something to think about.