Women Poised To Become America’s Primary Breadwinners

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by Alonzo on March 21, 2012

Women are becoming America’s primary breadwinners.

That’s the cover story in this week’s Time magazine and subject of a new book by author Liza Mundy.

Nearly 40% of working wives now out-earn their husbands. Within a generation women will make up the majority of primary breadwinners.

“Assuming present trends continue, by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than by men. Not since women entered the workforce by the millions after World War II has America witnessed economic change on this scale,” explains Mundy.

The trend of female economic empowerment has been building for decades, fueled in large part by the rise of the Pill. Birth control provided the freedom to pursue education and careers without the interference of an unplanned pregnancy.

Economic shifts also contributed as large swaths of the American manufacturing base were jettison overseas, taking along with them the high paying jobs that once allowed working-class men to provide a comfortable life for their families.

With the decline of American manufacturing and rise of the information and technology age its brainpower rather than brawn that reigns supreme. And when it comes to education women are leaving their male counterparts behind.

Sixty percent of all college graduates and the majority of masters and doctorate degree recipients are women. Soon it’s expected that high paying and intellectually challenging fields like law and medicine will become female dominated domains.

The new economic order will challenge ingrained gender stereotypes and create new challenges and anxieties in the process.

Men like Danny Hawkins, featured in the Time magazine article, will increasingly take on the roles of househusbands. Hawkins takes care of his two daughters and is treasurer of the PTA and homeowners association while his wife serves as a top executive at Henry Ford Health System.

But will society ultimately deem men like Hawkins weak and unworthy because they cannot keep pace with their spouse’s achievements? How will men react when their defining role as family breadwinner becomes usurped? And will women secretly begin to resent having to serve as the family’s primary breadwinner?

Time will only tell. The only certainty is that women will have greater influence in the workplace, and that will make all of our lives better.

To learn more about the upcoming economic shifts, read the cover story in this week’s Time magazine, or check out Liza Mundy’s new release, The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family.

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ImpulseSave March 22, 2012 at 7:40 am

Thank you for writing about this. I’ll have to check out the TIME article, because this sounds so interesting. We could have seen this coming with the majority of college graduates being female for some time now. I think that aside from all the controversy likely to come out of this discussion and theme in our society, the most important piece to remember is that for the first time in history, women have a choice and an opportunity to make money and be independent. For better or for worse, I think that that achievement alone is worth celebrating. Of course, women who do wish to uphold the traditional role of stay-at-home mother have every right to do so as well.

CJ Belle March 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I should add that I am the breadwinner in our marriage, I make 3 times what my husband makes (I also have a PhD); and my husband had not finished his B.S. as of yet (he left school years ago). It makes for an interesting dynamic…I feel sometimes like I’m still holding the weight of both sides of the marriage…doesn’t sit well with me at all, and I know others who feel this way too. A timely, and expected article.

Alonzo March 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Thanks CJ for sharing your perspective.

It’s going to bereal interesting to see if with increasing economic power, will women feel an even greater pressure to support their families. Will this cause resentment if a spouse isn’t holding up his end? Will men see it as a motive to step up their game or will many husbands see it as a way to get over. Why push yourself if your wife is bring home the bacon and you don’t have to do anything?

It’s my hope men will step up their game and get the education or initiative to advance their careers in order to share the burden. I guess only time will tell.

Alonzo April 12, 2012 at 11:43 am

I completely agree. It’s definitely a great thing that women are having more options than ever before.

The battle is not over though as I think we should still push for pay equality as well, seeing that women unfortunately earn less than 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

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