The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time

By David B. Grusky; Tamar Kricheli-Katz | Go to book overview

A Human Capital Account
of the Gender Pay Gap1

Solomon Polachek

The October 14, 2002, issue of Fortune magazine features the fifty most powerful women in business. But the cover story, “The New Trophy Husband,” seeks to find out who is “behind every powerful woman.”2 It argues that “increasingly it’s a stay-at-home dad.” The article depicts over a dozen successful women who attribute their accomplishments to an at-home husband managing the family. According to the article,

At Ford, Xerox, Sun, Schwab, Verizon, J. P. Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, al-
most everywhere you look in the upper ranks of the Fortune 500, it could be
the woman wearing the pants and the man minding hearth and home. Call
him what you will: househusband, stay-at-home-dad, domestic engineer. But
credit him with setting aside his own career by dropping out, retiring early,
or going part-time so that his wife’s career might flourish and their family
might thrive. Behind a great woman at work, there is often a great man at
home. He is the new trophy husband.3

The Fortune article portrays atypical families. Although the trend is changing,4 for most families the division of labor is the opposite. Husbands typically specialize in market work and not home management. In contrast,

Solomon Polachek is a distinguished professor at Binghamton University (SUNY),
where he has taught since 1983. His research contributions include the book The
Economics of Earnings
, written with W. Stanley Siebert. He is currently editor
of Research in Labor Economics. Polachek was elected president of the Peace
Science Society (1999–2000), vice president of the Eastern Economic Association
(2012–2013), and currently serves on editorial boards of Conflict Management
and Peace Science, Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy
, and the
Review of Economics of the Household.

-161-

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