40% of mothers are now the family breadwinner – Dr. Wendy

The Pew Research Center indicated that 40% of women are the family breadwinners.  Interestingly, 63% are single women and 37% are married women.

The study did not indicate the type of positions the women occupied. The share of married mothers, who out-earn their husbands, quadrupled from 1960 to 2011 to 15%.  Share of single mothers has tripled in 1960 to 2011 to 25%.

Another survey indicated that mothers but not their fathers are raising a growing number of lower-income children.  The effect shows more damage to sons than to daughters.  Sons were less likely to go to college and single mothers spent less time with their sons.  Therefore, the suggestion is that a two-parent household is more beneficial to the children.

The survey did show ambivalence about mothers working. The survey asked the question “should mothers work”?

-75% indicated working mothers predicted it was difficult to raise children and that it was bad for marriages
-50% thought it is better, if mothers stay home
-8% thought it is better, if fathers stay home
-80% indicated they did not want to return to the traditional role of the 1950s

The traditional male role, as breadwinner, is changing due to a number of factors and reasons for this change.

-Increase of births to single moms
-Increase in divorce rates over 50% and growing
-Recent recession and layoffs occurring more often to men at an earlier age
-Women are obtaining more college degrees and graduate degrees compared to their male counterparts

Psychologically, women and men are wired differently.  Organizational psychology has always indicated the masculine aspects of business focused on aggression, assertiveness, directness, confidence and independence.  This represents the traditional hierarchy structure of a corporation.

The feminine traits are described as intuitive, cooperative and collaborative and less hierarchy structure in a corporation. Therefore, creating a more team based approach focusing on communication and team leadership.

Interestingly enough, one study indicated that only approximately 1% of women reach positions as CEO’s, CFO’s CIO’s and Presidents.

Today, women have choices.  They can have careers, marriage and children.

This may lead to conflict.  Men had always assumed the traditional family role as the breadwinner.

Men have not changed over the generations in that they have always focused on providing for their wife and children. It was their sole responsibility and duty to do so.

Most women marry men who are as successful or more successful then they are.  I found in my research very few executive women wanted the man to stay at home and raise the children.

First, in a well-functioning family, everyone sacrifices to weather the bad times, assuming that the primary breadwinner will again be employed in a relatively short period of time.  The problem arises when joblessness is extended for a long period of time.  It can cause increasing stress on personal relationships and may result in a breakdown in traditional roles and the fabric of the family.

When the man is one of the long-term unemployed, women’s option to stay at home and raise the children is no longer an option.  They must seek employment, changing the dynamics of the tradition family, causing tension from unrealized expectations and unusual sacrifices.

Long-term unemployment and the egocentric loss for men, as “breadwinner”, can result in depression.

The depression can be so severe that the tasks of performing domestic chores; housework, cooking, laundry and dropping off and picking up the children at school and for their activities to help out the family is beyond them.  This may lead to the wife becoming resentful of her husband staying home.  In addition, the mother may have “guilt” feelings about not being there for her children.

The entire family fabric may become completely unraveled.  A woman may begin to ask herself, “If my husband can’t contribute to the family finances, why do I need him”?

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