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All in the family: How gender roles continue to evolve
Tradition takes backseat in modern society
Published Friday, July 13, 2018 10:44 am
by Jaraya Johnson | The Charlotte Post

Gender equality in American society is slowly making headway.

There are households in which moms are breadwinners and dads stay at home with the children. In others, both parents work, both stay home, or single parents who take on both roles. Aside from familial households, there are also single individuals who have to do all activities like chores and shopping. Additionally, women’s income has increased and more are working, even in managerial and corporate leadership roles.  

Katie Horowitz, an assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies at Davidson College, said, “Although we have certainly seen what appear to be progressive changes in the last 20 to 30 years — increasing numbers of women entering fields traditional coded as ‘men’s work’ (e.g., STEM fields, politics, finance, executive management) and vice versa (e.g., men as elementary educators, nurses, and stay-at-home dads) — these shifts do not tell the whole story,”

Pew Research stated: "Among Democrats and Republicans, more see an upside for women than for men as women have taken on a greater role in the workplace and men have assumed more responsibility for child care and housework.”

Horowitz said: “The rise in stay-at-home dads has as much to do with poverty as with gender equality: black men are twice as likely as white men to stay home with their kids, and a majority are out of the workforce because they are either disabled or unable to find a job.”

In a 2016 Pew study, research showed that women have made positive strides in the workforce while men have experienced losses. However, as of 2015, 9.3 percent of black women were unemployed compared to 3.8 percent of white women. In the 1950s, men 16 and older were at their highest work participation rate with 86 percent and women 16 and older were at their lowest with 34 percent. The rate for women in the workplace has since increased but has decreased for men, according to the report. In the ‘80s, men earned around $20 an hour (in 2016 dollars) and women made almost $13.  Over the years, pay for both genders has fluctuated and in 2016, studies showed that women were paid an hourly rate of $16 while men earned around $19.

“Black and Latina women are paid on average 63 and 54 cents, respectively, for every dollar a white man makes, compared to white women’s 79 cents,” Horowitz said.

Melanie Frith, a former summer camp counselor, expressed concern when she realized she was not getting paid as much as males doing the same work.

“[My fiancee] and I worked the same job and his starting pay was 50 cents higher than mine,” she said. “I was there for almost a year before he was ever hired.”
Despite gender discrimination and majority of men in leadership positions, women have begun to make their mark in different types of administrative roles with the potential of advancement.

“I would say that many families are having to adapt with shifts in the market that can require more than one person to work outside the home.  For example, in Charlotte one income would leave many families unable to pay for housing and support families. The effect has been that women are continuing to work outside of the home and able to advance in positions and careers,” said Janaka Lewis, director of women’s and gender studies at UNC Charlotte.   

According to Pew, as of 2017, women make up 21 percent of the U.S. Senate, 19 percent of the House of Representatives, 24.8 percent of state Legislatures, 8 percent of governors, and 21 percent of the U.S. cabinet. Yet, between the late 1960s and early ‘90s, these percentages for women were almost nonexistent. In other leadership roles like Fortune 500 CEOs (5.4 percent), Fortune 500 board members (20.2 percent), and college presidents (26.4 percent), women are changing the societal norm of gender roles.

Today, the new norm involves women working side by side with their male counterparts.


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