February 12, 2010
Women now hold more payroll jobs than men, and their marriages and families are being affected as a result.
The Wall Street Journal speculates that women's jobs fared better during the recession because they received better education than men. According to the U.S. Department of Education, women earn about 166 associate's degrees and 135 bachelor's degrees for every 100 earned by men. Consequently, women are employed in sectors that require college degrees, such as teaching, government and healthcare. Sectors which require less schooling, such as construction and manufacturing, were more likely to shed jobs this past year. Indeed, the contrast in unemployment between men and women has resulted in the coining of a new term: the "man-cession."
In fact, women's role in the workplace has altered so much that last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women held about 720,000 more nonfarm payroll jobs than men in January. Women also outnumbered men on the payroll during four months last year.
"This is unprecedented," commented Tim Consedine, regional economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Boston, who was quoted in the Journal.
But some experts warn that friction can develop in marriages where women have replaced men as the primary breadwinner. "It's almost always a problem," said Cheryl Pappas, a psychotherapist and social commentator who was quoted in the New York Daily News. "Money is a symbol of male virility in our culture. This is one issue where society barges in and calls the shots. And if the husband is not the king financially, it's a recipe for disaster. And that's not necessarily because the husband is demanding that kind of kingdom, but because society tells him he is a loser if she makes more money."
Other experts say that marriages aren't necessarily affected by who is the primary breadwinner. "If men and women have the expectation that it's okay for a spouse to earn more, it's not going to affect their relationship like it would if they go into the marriage with the expectation that the husband will have the job that pays more," explained Kristy Archuleta, a financial therapist at Kansas State University who was quoted in Kansas City InfoZine.
Families are being affected by women's increased presence in the workplace as well. The Washington Post reports that because of the recession, less married women are staying home to raise their children. As a result, women complain of having far less parenting time and increased stress.
Pamela Fields, for example, who increased her work hours from part- to full-time after her husband was laid off, found that she needed to give up afternoons with her school-age children. "I feel like when I get home at 6 p.m., there's no room to breathe," she told the Post.
Compiled By Yaffa Klugerman