Time Magazine’s latest cover article featured a piece written by Liza Mundy, award-winning journalist for the Washington Post. The article was adapted from her forthcoming book, The Richer Sex, and discusses how women are quickly becoming the breadwinners for their families and how this benefits all aspects of life, specifically relationships and marriage. She notes that this rapidly approaching shift has been influenced by several factors, including education and birth control. The rise of the female breadwinner is also changing traditional gender roles to suit women who work and/or men who decide to work from home or be “househusbands,” as they are so affectionately called. Mundy’s extensively researched article proves that while the fight for equality in the workplace must continue, careers can no longer be defined by gender, and it is most beneficial if families can organize themselves in way that makes the most sense to them, and not by pre-determined gender roles.
While the glass ceiling is far from broken, and the wage gap still persists (Mundy explains that a woman’s median wage is only 81% of what a man would make), women are better able to close the gap as they are better equipped for higher paying jobs. This leads to better, higher paying jobs and healthy competition with men in the same field. While some men may feel threatened by female achievement, it ultimately forces society to redefine masculinity. “The ability to generate income is not the only measure of value,” Mundy notes.
Pre-determined gender roles simply won’t hold up, and it is becoming more common for husbands to make sacrifices in order to for their wives to excel. This action in itself promotes equality as it encourages respect for one’s partner, and the desire to see achievement regardless of gender. In fact, more men are taking on household duties, or working from home in order to take care of children. These sacrifices, or at least shifts in workplace, will force families to organize themselves in a way that benefits all involved, and while “perfect equality” may not exist in a marriage, it encourages partners to share responsibility. It is more realistic and beneficial for families to have one’s skills be rewarded, and not just mindlessly divide up labor in an effort to make one’s relationship more equitable.
What Mundy’s research shows is an entirely new definition of “working woman,” with responsibilities much different from the generations before her. This will have, and to some extent already has had, a profound effect not only on future workforces, but on families, relationships, and education as well.