Breadwinner Moms | Pew Social & Demographic Trends

I’m at home with a 7 week old infant, and I head back to work in a little over a month.

Talking with other moms, I realize that I’m very blessed to have a job I love to go back to and to make enough that my husband can stay home with our daughter.

Who are these breadwinner moms?

Interestingly, many of my female friends are in a similar position in which, if faced with the choice of who would stay home, their partners would be the ones to stay home since my female friends often make more than their male partners. As it stands, most of these couples are two income households, but there are a few in which the woman is sole working professional.

They are not just people I know in my industry. In fact, most of them are not in health care or consulting at all, though I have examples there too. One friend is a geologist, another a statistician/ epidemiologist, one is in real estate, two others are public and private radio producers; the list goes on. But all of these friends are women, and all are the primary income earners for their households. Only some of these households have kids, but some will expand their families with children in the coming years, and it’s likely that the women will continue to be primary income earners.

Setting it up so that breadwinning and mothering are compatible

The study found that:

“The total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner. In 2011, the median family income was nearly $80,000 for couples in which wife is the primary breadwinner, about $2,000 more than it was for couples in which husband is the primary breadwinner, and $10,000 more than for couples in which spouses’ income is the same.”

Even with higher education and an increase in opportunities for women in industry, men still make up a disproportionate share of executive level positions given the gender make up of the work force, and women still earn less than men on average which means overall, family income averages are declining.

Certainly this trend of Mommy Main Money Makers will continue, but in life, something’s got to give. The idea – the reality – of being Supermom is very much a part of our lives, and it will continue to (and increasingly) weigh heavily on the shoulders of women if industry doesn’t increase flexibility and maneuverability for female executives and indeed for all female members of the work force. Without this, both our families and our work is negatively impacted.

Ensuring adequate parental leave on small businesses, allowing a flex schedule and equipping workers with the technology to work from home, and partnering or sharing work duties can help make that flexibility and maneuverability within reach.


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