Women – Bringing home the bacon
Increasingly in our work we are coming across women leaders who are the main breadwinner for their family. Some of this may be down to the recession when the woman unexpectedly becomes the main breadwinner due to redundancy or lay off. Other times it is down to circumstance and choice.
According to a Reuters study in 2010, a third of women in the US now earn more than their partners. Often juggling work, life, and family in secrecy, this growing number of women rarely discuss and seek coping strategies for their complex roles.
The changing role can create issues at work and at home, where the female breadwinner doesn’t feel productive or valued and her performance and health start to suffer.
Do the roles reverse? It seems not, as research in the U.S. has found that when a husband is economically dependent on his wife, over time he actually does less housework than before! Similarly further research found that when wives in Australia and the U.S. earn 51–100% of household income, the couple tended to retain or return to the traditional gendered divisions of domestic chores.
Women experience being a female breadwinner differently, these exerts taken from research by Rebecca J. Meisenbach highlight this:
“it’s an immense amount of pressure on me to be a very high performer at work so that I can with 100% certainty maintain either my employment here or my employability at the same level in another organization…. It’s an immense amount of pressure, and – and the other thing that it does is it – it dissuades me from going out and finding a job that probably would suit my passions more because my passion lies in areas that don’t pay”. Diana a Human Resources Consultant
“I liked the idea of being able to go out and – and support a family so that – you know, I watched my dad go through a divorce…. he’s going through a second divorce now and… every time, the woman he’s with has no job, and I always liked the idea of, you know, even if I did get married and my marriage fell apart, I would still be okay”. Rachel
“I find it’s kind of empowering. I – and this – this is just, um, it’s not something that I’m like, “Oh, I want to be in finance because I’ll make tons and tons of money,” … this is just how I feel now that I’m in it.” Suzy an auditor
So it can be pressuring and stressful, empowering and provide independence and we imagine so much more.
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My forthcoming book: Rocking Your Role – the ‘how to’ guide to success for Female Breadwinners, will be out in June 2012