Stay at home Dads / Female Breadwinners – Two sides of the same coin?
What a week its been for families.
The European Commission revealed research which showed that there has been growth of 10% in Female breadwinners during the economic crisis, and official employment statistics revealed this week also showed that men now make up nearly 10 per cent of those who care for children while their partner goes out to work.
The Telegraph initially picked up this story and I was interviewed by Emma Sinclair from their Wonder Women feature, she questioned Why Female Breadwinners are still Taboo. This was followed quickly by Sam Marsden who featured the story on the Rise in Stay At Home Fathers being fuelled by the growth of Female Breadwinners on front page of the Telegraph
Marie Claire, the Daily Mail and even the Wall Street Examiner quickly picked up on the story
Why is this news worthy, i hear you groan?
Because it seems that an important maybe transformation shift might just be taking place right under our noses.
The reason could be that traditionally male dominated sectors, such as construction and finance have been hardest hit by the recession and so men are finding themselves out of work, having to retrain or sit it out until things improve. It could also be that women are ‘cheap‘ and when making tough decisions about cost, a woman doing the same job will cost you around 82% of what a man would have done.
However, there may be something more fundamental than a temporary or circumstantial blip taking place, men and women may be actually being honest about what they enjoy. If you are a man who has been slogging it out for many years in a career that you don’t enjoy and perhaps been an almost absent father, why shouldn’t you be able to put all of your energy into home making, without being teased by your friends, treated in fascination by the yummy mummies at the playgroup or called lazy by the older generation?
If you are a woman who has felt unvalued by employers because you work part-time, or may inconvenience them by having a baby at some point. Or felt that you couldn’t leave your children as you didn’t have childcare that you could trust, how wonderful to now have a stay at home Dad to rely on.
The truth is being the breadwinner is hard whether you are the man or woman, however women take on more of the household and caring responsibilities whatever their role. They also feel guilty about not giving their all in and outside the home, whereas men appear to be more focused in their approach and don’t carry the guilt so heavily on their shoulders.
It seems we have a lot to learn from each other, but it starts with accepting that roles are changing and that its OK. I would argue that it is still taboo and that when a woman tells you that hubby is at home with the kids you search for an explanation for it. For some reason there needs to be an excuse, we should stop searching for this.
Breadwinning is easy when there is enough money to go around, but much harder when the bread you win isn’t enough. Let’s face it there has to be some pay off!
My wish is that we just make it easier – easier for women and men to have flexible working, easier for families to craft the balance they want traditional or not. Fundamentally men and women will need some help adapting to these roles, navigating the work place and their lives in a way that is radically different.
This freedom will bring choices, let’s hope we make the right ones.
Have your say on the subject of Breadwinners, please complete and share this survey by 31st January, 2013