Newspaper article International New York Times

Suzanne Bianchi, 61; Studied Family Life

Newspaper article International New York Times

Suzanne Bianchi, 61; Studied Family Life

Article excerpt

Professor Bianchi, a social scientist, upended conventional wisdom suggesting that working women were shortchanging their children.

Suzanne M. Bianchi, a social scientist who explored the changing landscape of late-20th-century American families, tracing how divorce, the shrinking gender gap and women's careers affected children, parents and their households ("Is Anyone Doing the Housework?" was the title of one of her papers), died on Nov. 4 in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 61.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, her husband, Mark Browning, said.

Professor Bianchi, who was on the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles, was best known among demographers for mining "time use" surveys -- data on how, where and with whom people spend time -- to study how parents balance the demands of work and family.

Her most influential finding -- that working mothers of the 1990s spent as much time with their children as stay-at-home mothers of the 1960s did, or more -- upended conventional wisdom suggesting that women with careers were shortchanging their children.

Working mothers clocked an average of 30 hours a week on the job, but managed somehow to match the '60s-era homemakers' average weekly total of hands-on, close-contact time with their children: 12 hours.

"How could the time allocation of our family caregivers, women, change so dramatically without a negative effect on the time mothers spend with children?" Professor Bianchi asked.

They got less sleep, she said, and did less housekeeping, worked flexible hours, turned down promotions, were more likely to take the children to work when the babysitter did not show up, cut back on exercise and entertainment, watched less TV, and gave less personal attention to their partners.

The fathers of the '90s spent more time with their children and did more housework than fathers of the previous generation, Professor Bianchi added. But women did more of the work in the house and most of the schedule juggling. "The changed allocation of time in two-parent families is primarily a change in women's allocation of time," she said. …

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