THE QUIET REVOLUTION IN WOMEN'S EMPLOYMENT .
Perhaps the greatest change of all has been the increase in "working wives." Women workers today form over two-fifths of our labor force. About 61 percent of all married women (aged 20 to 45} living with their husbands are in the labor force, and over nine out of ten warried women work for some part of their married lives. The labor force now includes 56 perce-nt of all women with children under 6 years old, and 70 percent of all women with children between 6 and 18 years old. [Statistical Abstract, 1981, pp. 386, 388). Married women with children are now more likely to be employed than married women without children (explained, perhaps, by the fact that many of the "married women without children" are of retinnent age). From these data, the "normal" life pattern of the American woman emerges. Typically, she begins working before marriage, works until her children arrive, when she mny take off a few years but, if so, returns before long. Obviously, it has become normal for the American wife to work for a major part of her lifetime.
Historically, a woman who worked was Jiving evidence that she had no husband able and willing to support her. A survey of 140 married women workers in 1908 found that only 6 husbands held jobs above the grade of unskilled laborer [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1908, pp. 1~164]. The working wife, once a lower-class phenomenon, is now common among the prosperous middle classes.
There :s no reason to believe that this trend will be reversed. The" American standard of Jiving" now requires two incomes. In the
words of one middle-class couple, "You can make do with one income, but you get accustomed to a style of living where you spend more quickly, and it becomes almost a necessity to have a double salary." [Time, 110:57, Aug ..21, 1978J. As the "normal" standard of living increasingly becomes insupportable on a single income, the pressure upon the nonworking wife to get a job is difficult to resist.Most of the readers of this textbook will be either working wives or the husbands of working wives for a major part of their married lives. This' quiet revolution has affected the household division of labor. The work time of housewives has not been reduced by laborsaving devices; today's wives spend Iorc time on housework than those of a half century ago [Hall and Schroeder, 1970;Vanek, 1974, p. 231]. The time once spent in hand, washing clothes and home-canning is now spent in putting in order a daily avalanche of toys, books, magazines, and hobby gear, chauffeuring children, attending the PTA, and doing other tasks which grandmother did not do.
Obviously, when the wife works, something. has to give. Some of the housekeeping niceties may be sacrificed, and some tasks may be commercialized (sending out the laundry, buying prepared foods), but the working wife still works longer than the housewife by an average of about ten hours a week. A study of time-use in twelve European and American countries [Converse, 1972 J found that this ten-hour figure held true within a very small variation for all the twelve countries studied. Husbands and children, on the average, assume only a modest share of household tasks when wives work. No matter whether the husband works long or short hours, he still does very little housework [Clark, Nye, and Gecas, 1978; Theretofore and Moore, 19791. One study concludes that, as compared with husbands of nonworking wives, husbands of working wives spend about fou·r more hoursa week on household chores [Bohen and Viveros-Long, 1981, p. 134), while another study credits them with less than two hours per week of additional household chores [Pleck, 1979]. Husbands of working wives do give considerable help with child care [Scanzonj, 1978, P: 77], and a recent survey of male college students reported three-fourths saying that they expected to spend as much time as their wives in bringing up children [Katz, 1978). It will be interesting to see whether their performance matches their promise. Most . of the male readers of this book have discovered, or will discover, whether their masculinity will dissolve in dishwater