Many of us think of “traditional” gender roles as being like a 1950s sitcom: Dad puts on his suit and heads to the office, while Mom, in her pearls and housedress and stays home and keeps house. But that scenario was just temporary role. For most of human history, it has taken the efforts of both men and women, whether working in the workforce or in the fields, to keep the family afloat. And that’s the situation to which we seem to be returning.
By 2050, women will make up 47 percent of the workforce in the United States — up from 30 percent in 1950. But some experts are predicting that, at least in the short term, the number of women in the workforce may surpass the number of men. What’s the reason? During the recession that began in 2008, many jobs disappeared from industries traditionally dominated by male workers, such as manufacturing, textiles, and machinery. Unless many more manual labor and manufacturing jobs appear, it may be that women, who traditionally work in health care, education and other service industries, will take the lead in the American workforce.
If more women are working, does that mean more men are busy taking care of the house and the children? Not likely. Unfortunately even though men are not in the workforce as much as women the women are still performing both roles. Many of the traditional behaviors expected of men are also becoming less enforced in some households or cultures. The reason that this chance has occurred is due to the fact men are not held to a high standard now. Women are the ones who are held to a higher standard than men now.
Throughout history, men have always been responsible for providing for the family. In our earliest days as a species with a plan for the day, that meant hunting and bringing home meat for a source of food or going out and gathering needed materials for shelter. Women, on the other hand, took care of children and housekeeping. Men worked outside the home; women were expected to stay within the home. However, thanks to cultural movements such as second-wave feminism, it’s now considered more acceptable for women to have a career.
To a lesser extent, some men have admitted that they don’t want a career and would rather stay home with their children, or at least would not feel uncomfortable doing so. Now days there are more men or stay at home fathers wanting to stay at home and do the womanly duties than manly duties. Unfortunately though women still earn far more less while the higher pay still lies in the hands of men who continue to hold onto the most visible leadership roles in society.