Thankfully, the ‘Ward Cleaver’ image of the family is on its way out yet, according to sociologists, the sexual inequality associated with assigning men the role of the economic provider and women as the child rearer and homemaker, is still very much in existence. These social stereotypes remain in spite of the fact that, within the last few decades, there has been a sharp increase in the number of mothers deciding to venture outside the home and into paid employment. Statistics show that the level of mothers in paid employment has risen from one in eight in the 1950′s to a present day estimate of over fifty percent and, according to the Department of Labor, in 2001 women were found to compose forty-eight percent of the entire labor force furthermore it is forecasted that in 2008 that percentage will equal or exceed 50 percent. The majority of mothers are in employment out of necessity, either because of single parenthood, divorce, widowhood or other factors, which place them in the role of sole, or primary, provider for the family. However, modern society still tends to define men as the ‘breadwinner’ whose career is of greater importance than that of women, who still appear to be generally labeled as the homemaker. This is most apparent in the household division of labor, with many working mothers commonly faced with an unequal workload of household tasks in addition to their paid employment, even in cases where the husband is unemployed or working in part-time employment.
A study by Wheelock examined the household division of labor in families where the woman was in paid employment and the man was unemployed. This was found to be a fairly unusual situation because in many cases where the husband becomes unemployed it appears that the wife is likely to do the same, in all likelihood as a result of the disincentive effect of the social security system. However, in the thirty families that were studied it was... [continues]
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