Working Women and the American Family
The increased role of women in the workplace has certainly changed the face of the American family, as well as strengthening the family itself. Because we as Americans do not have the deep past and rich cultural history of older nations, we are allowed a larger range of flexibility in our social structures – including family. Indeed, this flexibility extends to the familial unit, allowing this construct to change according to economic and social influences. In the past, women have been cast in a role to remain in the home; to clean, take care of the children, and provide meals for the family. Women were not expected to be seen in the workforce, and especially not if they were married. However, with the increased cost of living (comfortably), as well as the economic and social pressures placed on us to achieve status, women have become a more powerful asset in the workforce. For the earlier parts of my own life, my father was the only breadwinner in the family. My mother did, however, have a college education, and did work before my parents had children, allowing them to have a certain financial stability while my mother remained at home to take care of my brother and myself. But, as we grew older and our needs increased, as well as our ability to take care of ourselves, my mother took up a job to help with the family income. This move did cause a change in our relationship, but it did not weaken our family, and allowed us to remain living comfortably. Women have gained respect by taking jobs in the workplace. This allowed them to control an income and have a certain say in how money was spent – to have some economic sway. Advertisers saw this, and began advertising to women, showing that women now had economic status. Further, when women could hold higher-income, managerial positions, they were able to show their leadership abilities and gain more respect both in the workplace and at home. Coontz notes that “throughout...
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