Thursday, June 6, 2013

For working women, the Dark Ages never left

Female breadwinners may be increasingly common, but they continue to face highly unfriendly public opinion and substantial inequality.

By Sri Ponnada

Long gone are the days of women slaving away in the kitchen, listening to Lesley Gore on the radio.

Women are now the breadwinners in a record 40 percent of U.S. households, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center in May. They really are bringing home the broccoli. Thank goodness — right? Some of us may be rejoicing and claiming to have foreseen this incredible shift in societal norms. However, a minority of Americans seem happy about women venturing very far away from home — mainly the kitchen.

The same report by Pew highlighted that more than half of the respondents to the survey said children are better off with their mother at home. The survey also showed that around 74 percent of Americans believe that the increasing number of women employed outside the home makes it harder for parents to raise children.

Obviously, working women are only going to raise kids who become delinquents and feminists. Everyone knows that those troublesome feminists are always up to no good. So, why should these women be allowed to work in the first place?

Married women are actually better educated than their husbands. In fact, women overall are surpassing men when it comes to education.

In 1970, men earned 60 percent of all college degrees. By 2006, men’s share dropped to 43 percent.  If you want to live more comfortably, it would be wise to send your woman to work. The total income for the family is higher when the mother is the breadwinner, according to the report from Pew — about $2,000 more than in families with male breadwinners.

The sad truth is that for many women, breadwinner or baker, those Lesley Gore days never left. The days when children returned from school and Mother cooked a fresh, hot meal with Dad coming home from work and the whole family gathering around the television for few hours of family fun before bedtime — those days are still here.

According to a paper published in the journal, Quantitative Sociology, most female breadwinners still do most of the housework. In cases that they don’t, they still rule the domestic realm.

In fact, households in which women are the breadwinners tend to be more backwards than those in which men earn most of the income. A working paper by economists at the University of Chicago shows that when the wife earns more, she usually takes on more of the housework and child care. Furthermore, couples in which the wife is the breadwinner tend to report less marriage satisfaction and higher divorce rates.

What are the wives doing to fix this? Simple. They are staying out of the workforce as much as possible. The economists found that women are more likely to stay out of the work force if there is a high chance that they’ll make more than their husbands.

It’s either that, or those women don’t get married. And if a woman is a single mother, she can’t get married even if she wants.

“Today’s single mothers are much more likely to be never married than were single mothers in the past,” stated the report by Pew.

Can you guess why?

As much as I’d like to believe that our society’s norms and beliefs have changed radically, when I look at the underlying facts and data, that reality clearly isn’t so. There have been slight shifts in the way we view women and their role in society, but there are still a vast majority of individuals whose attitudes reflect those of generations past. Too many women remain in the kitchen at the end of the day.

The Dark Ages are still here.

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