Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

From Pin Money to Paychecks -- Women as the 'New Providers'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

From Pin Money to Paychecks -- Women as the 'New Providers'

Article excerpt

WOMEN have come a long way economically since the days when their financial status depended on pin-money handouts from a husband or sugar-bowl savings from their own thrifty ways. As they have poured into the work force in recent decades, they've contributed millions of paychecks and billions of dollars to their family incomes. Yet a myth persists that many are only "helping out," providing supplementary income for discretionary expenses.

What a misconception! A major study released today by the Families and Work Institute finds that 55 percent of employed women earn half or more of their household income. Eighteen percent provide all the earnings, 11 percent provide more than half, and 26 percent provide about half. Far from buying only extras, these paychecks supply essentials -- housing, food, transportation, child care. The economic viability of many households depends on women's earnings.

The study, called "Women: The New Providers," looks at important family, work, and social issues facing women in the United States. Its findings should end forever the debate about whether women should or should not work.

"The new provider role is here to stay," the report states, referring to women's dual role in providing economic as well as nurturing support. The report also refutes the notion that if women didn't need the money, many would quit their jobs and go home -- fast. To the contrary, women's interest in work outside the home is growing, the study shows.

Even if money weren't a consideration, nearly half would like to work part time or full time. And despite a widespread "time famine" facing both men and women, a majority of women say they would not want to give up some of their responsibilities. Most enjoy their full, busy lives, the study says.

Yet that doesn't mean all is well domestically or professionally. On the home front, more than half of women cite insufficient family time as their greatest concern. Many would like the option of working less than full time -- a desire shared by men who took part in a portion of the survey. Both men and women, in fact, see caring relationships as the core of successful family life. …

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