Married woman are more likely than ever to out-earn their husbands and serve as the primary breadwinner for their family, helping to further reshape the image of the “traditional” gender roles within the home.
In 40 percent of American households with children under 18, women serve as the primary breadwinner, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.
This record statistic, up from 11 percent in 1960, reflects a changing societal trend toward gender equality in the workplace and at home.
The amount of employed mothers has increased dramatically since the 1960s, and especially in recent years, as more families require two incomes to support their children in a declining economy. In 2011, six of ten married couples with children relied on dual incomes.
Even though the increase of women in the workforce provides economic benefits to families, the public still seems unsure as to whether or not they feel comfortable with mothers spending so much time outside the home.
“Traditional” households, in which the mother stays at home and the father works, comprise only 31 percent of modern American households, as opposed to 70 percent in 1960.
Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said that the increasing number of women working makes raising children more difficult.
Such data suggests a return to “traditional” gender roles, yet 79 percent rejected the idea that women should return to traditional gender roles.
“There’s clearly some sort of cognitive dissidence going on here where people aren’t understanding the definition of traditional gender roles, as they still want women in the working world yet at home raising children,” associate director of women’s economic policy at the Center for American Progress Sarah Glynn said.
“But even working women are often conflicted about their own choices. It makes sense why some women choose to stay at home,” Glynn said.
Fifty-one percent of Americans surveyed said children are better off if the woman stays at home, but only 8 percent said the same thing about men.
“We only have 8 percent of people saying that men should stay home, but frankly I think that is insulting towards men,” Glynn said “Every working dad wants to spend more time with his young kids. This work-life conflict isn’t just a women’s issue.”