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Sharon Meers's picture

On NPR this week, I was asked if there’s any good in the new statistics showing that women now outnumber men in the work force.  Maybe.   If it lets us embrace women as breadwinners, I said, that would be healthy.   Even healthier: If men do their part at home and free women to keep the kinds of jobs that pay well. Listen

But, like many things, this all comes down to love and sex.  Some people get uneasy when women make more money and men do more childcare. Why is that?  I’m guessing it’s the same reason that, until we wrote our book, I’d never heard these two facts:

1) Growing your earnings power helps you get -- and stay -- married if you are a woman.

2)  When husbands do more at home, couples have more sex.

(For details on point #2, see

Let’s shake off our male-female identity angst so we weather the downturn more happily and set up for a better future.

Two career bets are safer than one.  Dual-career men and women can each be more agile, less vulnerable members of the labor force.  A wife who can keep the family afloat gives a downsized husband better options – to find the right next job, change careers, start his own business.

And when a man values his wife's career, he’s more willing to step up and do his part at home.  When a mom values her husband as an equally qualified parent, she’s more likely to step aside and let him do things his own way (and dad’s more apt to enjoy parenting).

We need to move from women having more jobs to women having better jobs – because female earnings matter to families not just in a recession but in the recovery too.

We’re fooling ourselves if we think we have free labor markets when “girl-jobs” (less pay, some time for kids) and “boy jobs” (more pay, no time for kids) persist.   We’ll all enjoy more prosperity when the best person for the job can both win the post and keep it -- whether man or woman, dad or mom.

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