On Monday, I called Liza Mundy for a chat. I felt like I could have talked on the phone with her for days. She has just finished two years of interviewing men and women about work, family, money, power, marriage and decision making. Her findings are in a newly published book called The Richer Sex. I LOVE THIS TOPIC!!!
I included some of my interview with Mundy, along with interviews with female business leaders, into my Miami Herald column today on The Richer Sex. Assuming present trends continue, Mundy believes that by the next generation more families will be supported by women than by men.
I asked Liza if she thought women were uncomfortable being called "breadwinners," traditionally used to describe men.
Women who outearn their husbands might feel uncomfortable with the term, she says. But those that earn all the income in their families would be comfortable being called a breadwinner.
I asked her what has changed in the last decade and why she feels the next generation of women will outearn men.
They are outearning men because they are going to college and are better educated, she says. "Guys think they will graduate from high school and get a decent paying industrial or labor job and they are wrong. Single childless women in their 20s have a higher median income than their male peers."
Are women entrepreneurs contributing to The Richer Sex trend?
Women businesses are doing well. A lot who start their business, do it because they are not getting enough flexibility from their institutional workplace. Sometimes, their businesses do so well that they hire their husbands.
What are the conversations going on in America's households about downshifting and raising kids?
For working parents to reach the highest levels of Corporate America, either the workplace needs to change or someone needs to have flexibility or be the stay at home spouse. Workplaces can only do so much. I know fathers who want to spend more time with kids.
I asked one of the women I spoke with whether she feels she missed out by being the sole provider. She doesn’t feel that way. Because her husband is such good runner of the household, when she gets home from work she can devote time to family. She is the one with the rich vacation benefits and the long workdays but her husband is supportive and she feels she is an attentive mother.
You mentioned more households are being supported by women. How will this affect women's salaries?
I would hope that ultimately it would put pressure on employers to understand that women are breadwinners and not look at their income as supplementary. As men become more aware of their wives' earning potential and are more willing to move for them, I hope it will help women's negotiating ability. Still, there is a danger of women supporting households on less than a man would make.
Do you think there's a dollar threshold that a spouse reaches which causes the other to quit their job?
Not really. It can depend on whether you live in D.C. or New York or Detroit. Every city is so different.
Is the notion of a stay at home parent outdated? It seems everyone has some type of side job today, even if it's blogging or selling things on the Internet.
It can work out well if a husband stays home or the wive could turn around and say this is not guy thought I was marrying. Stay-at-home dads numbers are rising, but some still feel stigmatized. I found wives would inflate the prestige of their husbands' hobbies. If they were blogging, the wive would refer to it as a potential book project. I think women were brought up to brag about their husband’s job or salary. The former definition of success was to marry well.
Is there a lot of arguing over who stays home with the kids?
I found there's more arguing over who had to be one with the steady paycheck and who got to be the entrepreneur. Men are seeing the benefits of a wive with a steady paycheck.
How is the fact that women are becoming more educated affecting marriages?
Women have never had this level of education greater than men. They are looking out at a pool of young men and they will have to ask, "Will I marry guy who didn’t’ go to college?" Some will say yes. I interviewed a carpenter who is putting his wife through law school. I also interviewed a women who wants to marry man who did go to college and is going to great efforts to meet one. She lives in Miami travels to New York where she thinks there's a bigger pool of mates. Someone who wants to marry guy on her level will use resources to find them. Some will marry down and accept early on that they are the primary earner and find a guy who will invest in their career.
Why aren't men getting college educations?
Women were told they needed more education to earn as much as men so they acted accordingly. Girls are hearing have to go to college and support yourself. You may be a single mom. Boys aren’t hearing the same message. Boys think they have to be the provider, so they leave after high school to get any job.
Here's another interesting take on Mundy's book: Daily Mail: Next generation of women to outearn men
According to the TIME magazine cover story, 40% of working women out-earn their mate and within 25 years women will make more than men across the board.
Readers, how do you think this will affect marriage, family, workplaces and buying decisions?