These two stats show how radically American families have changed

Two generations ago, most mothers spent their days washing dishes, cleaning the home, and preparing meatloaf for dinner.

But today’s mothers are much more likely to work full-time, according to a new Pew Research study.

Two stats show the big changes in two-parent households:

In 46% of homes, both the mother and father work full-time, compared to 31% in 1970.

Only 26% of homes have a stay-at-home mum and working dad, compared to 46% in 1970.

This data suggests that gender equality in the US workforce is improving. Although the pay gap is still pretty wide, gender roles at work are becoming more equal — or, at the very least, less defined.

Other research shows that:

  • Women make up 47% of the workforce in the US in 2015, compared to 37% in 1970
  • More women work in traditionally male-dominated fields, like law, medicine, and finance. Over 60% of accountants today are women.
  • 70% of women, whether single or married, work full or part-time.

At home, working parents still share different types of responsibilities. Fathers are more likely to play with and discipline the kids. Mothers report they manage children’s schedules and assign chores, which, research shows, instills teamwork in kids.

Pew also says that working mothers take on only 4% more of household responsibilities than men. This is good news, because studies suggest that couples who equally share chores build stronger relationships.

With all of these household responsibilities, one thing hasn’t changed: Parents still struggle to balance everything.

Working parents say they feel tired, stressed, and rushed on quality time with their children, friends, and family. Working mothers, in particular, report that it’s harder to advance in their career when they have children. About half of working fathers say the same.

“This is not an individual problem, it is a social problem,”
Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist from the University of California, San Diego, told The New York Times.

“This is creating a stress for working parents that is affecting life at home and for children, and we need a societal-wide response,” she said.

When both parents work full-time, 62% of parents say that they share an equal focus on their careers. However, the same is not true for their paychecks. Half
of these households say that fathers earn more. Since women make 77 cents to the dollar that men make, this isn’t surprising.

Still, it seems that gender roles between parents are blurring. Some mothers work full-time, while some fathers stay at home. Some parents take on part-time jobs while their children are young. And some households have two working fathers. Or two working mothers.

If more parents are working, hopefully, more workplaces will implement policies like paid family leave and after-school child care. The portrait of the American family is changing. Now if only our workplaces could get up to speed.

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