My Take, The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything

Would it shock you to learn that American companies haven't kept up with the changes in today's workforce or with their families?...more

Women as Breadwinners

One of my favorite episodes of the Brady Bunch is the one where Mike and Carol swap their traditional parenting roles. Mike spends an afternoon cooking with Marcia, Jan, and Cindy, while Carol runs baseball practice for Greg, Peter, and Bobby. Despite their best efforts, both fail spectacularly. Mike makes a mockery of himself in the kitchen, while Carol looks like a fish out of water on the baseball diamond. At the end of the day, Mike and Carol share a good laugh and come to the inescapable conclusion that they — and the family — are much better off when everyone does what they’re supposed to do. The episode is hilariously funny and, like much of the show, awfully old-fashioned. The Brady Bunch, of course, is all about traditional gender roles. Mike is the breadwinner, Carol is the caregiver, the boys like sports, the girls like dolls, Alice likes to dust. Even Tiger lives in an old-fashioned doghouse.  A Woman’s Nation is centered on the idea that America in 2009 looks a whole lot different than America in, say, the early 1970s. In the chapter entitled “New Breadwinners,” the report explores the new American economy, which for the first time contains a workforce evenly split along gender lines. Not only do women now make up 50 percent of the nation’s workforce, but working mothers are also now the primary or co-breadwinners in a majority of American families. Nevertheless, from the types of jobs women hold to how much (or how little) they are compensated, equity in the workplace has clearly not yet been achieved despite women’s new parity in the workplace. The starkest indicator of this fact is the pay gap — the average woman working full-time earns a mere 77 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart....more