The New York Times
recently wrote about a new trendof mothers who work on Wall Street with stay-at-home husbands who watch the kids.
The women and men quoted in the article largely described the arrangement as an inversion of the traditional 1950s marriage: the wife is the breadwinner while the husband cares for the children, does the laundry, and makes the meals.
Husbands who are increasingly willing to take on the domestic load help women dedicate themselves to work in a way that only men with housewives previously could. The women can head to the office before the sun’s up without worrying about lunches or daycare dropoffs. If they need to travel with little notice, they can. In exchange, the Wall Street women earn paychecks their husbands could hardly compete with.
The group of women with this arrangement, while growing, is still very small. Mums working in finance with stay-at-home spouses make up less than 2% of all married women on Wall Street, according to the Times’ analysis. But their ranks have increased nearly tenfold since 1980.
The Times found that the current number of mums working on Wall Street (more than 21,000) has risen steadily over the past 30 years. In 1980, just 2,980 women fit into that category. The number climbed to 5,924 in 1990 and 16,196 in 2000.
You can see the gradual growth in the chart below:
Will the trend continue? It’s hard to say. On the whole, the women seem to like the setup, but the stay-at-home dads interviewed by the Times had mixed feelings. Many were proud of their wife’s success, but felt awkward telling friends they were househusbands.
Although it’s a sign of progress toward gender equality, the solution certainly isn’t ideal. As the Times points out, the culture of Wall Street isn’t changing if success requires one partner to stay at home and support the other’s career. A more accessible model would offer the flexibility to accommodate dual-earner and single parents.
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