business news in context, analysis with attitude

USA Today reports this morning on a new Pew Research Center study saying that four out of 10 US households with children have what are called "breadwinner moms" - defined as "the sole or primary source of income for households with children younger than 18."

In 1960, that number was 11 percent.

According to the story, "These moms include two groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers. The median family income for the first group was $79,800 in 2011, compared with $23,000 for the single mothers.

"The growth of breadwinner moms is tied to women's increased employment rate and rising education levels ... In the new survey, 28% say they agree it is generally better for a marriage if a husband earns more than his wife. In 1997, 40% said so."

The story goes on to say that "the public has mixed feelings about women working for pay outside the home, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 1,003 U.S. adults in April. About 67% say it has made it easier for families to earn enough to live comfortably. About 50% say it makes it harder for marriages to be successful; about 74% say it makes it harder for parents to raise children."
KC's View:
While the survey doesn't go into this, it is a pretty good bet that while more families may depend on breadwinner moms, many of whom are earning more than their spouses, those same moms may not be earning as much as their male counterparts at work in identical or comparable jobs. If women are taking on a great earning role, in part it is because men got hit harder by the recession, and many companies upped the number of women they were hiring or keeping simply because they could pay them less. Which is a shame.

I have to admit that it is amazing to me that there are still 28 percent of people who think that it is a better for a marriage if men are the breadwinners in a relationship, and that half of Americans think that marriages are threatened by female breadwinners, and that three-quarters of Americans think that breadwinner moms make it harder to raise children.

I sure hope that in coming generations, these numbers change. Because I've always felt that my marriage and family are best served by being able to love our children, feed them, house them, clothe them, and raise them in a climate of mutual respect and tolerance. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter who contributes most to the bank account, or which one of us shows up for parents' night at school, or coaches the little league team, or cooks the meals or reads to the kids at night. (At various times, we've both done each of these things.)

But sometimes things change more slowly than they should. Take, for example, that bozo billionaire, Paul Tudor Jones, who told an audience at the University of Virginia recently that, as National Public Radio put it, "motherhood causes women to lose the necessary focus to be successful traders," because they lose their desire, focus and mental capacities once they give birth and begin breast feeding.

"As soon as that baby's lips touched that girl's bosom, forget it," he said, adding, "Every single investment idea ... every desire to understand what is going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience ... which a man will never share, about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby ... And I've just seen it happen over and over."

I find those remarks to be incredibly offensive, and reflective of a sensibility that has not kept pace with the times. I can only imagine how the thousands of female traders in the financial services industry feel about it. And I would hope that my daughter would be outraged by them.

C'mon, man! This is the 21st century. Guys have to get over their own egos and realize that testicles only make them better at one thing. (Maybe two.)

To be fair, Jones has since apologized for his remarks, saying that they were "off the cuff" and not reflective of his real feelings: "Much of my adult life has been spent fighting for equal opportunity, and the idea that I would support limiting opportunity for any segment of society, particularly women, is antithetical to who I am and what I have done," he said. "My remarks offended, and I am sorry."

Better late than never. (Though I have to wonder if he is sorry he said it, or sorry he got caught saying it.)