More Women Are Bringing Home the Bacon, but More Men Are Shopping for It

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In the 1970s, Enjoli perfume attempted to capture the hearts (and dollars) of female consumers with its now-iconic commercial featuring a woman in a business suit who bragged that she could "Bring home the bacon ... and fry it up in a pan." The message, which was once revolutionary, has become commonplace: According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, women are now the sole or primary wage earner in 40 percent of households with children aged 18 or younger. But women aren't the only ones who've seen their traditional roles upended: Surveys conducted by marketers and advertisers show that an ever-growing number of men are becoming the primary shoppers for their households.

The Pew study carried both optimistic and pessimistic news. On the bright side, it revealed that an impressive 37 percent of "breadwinner moms" are married women who make more money than their husbands. These mothers tend to be older, college educated, and have a median family income of $80,000 -- about $30,000 more than the median for all U.S. families. And, while these married earners comprise less than half of all breadwinner moms, their share of the total is growing: The number of women who outearn their husbands has nearly quadrupled from 4 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2011.

Unfortunately, the number of single mothers has almost kept pace: Between 1960 and 2011, the share of households headed by single moms rose from 7 percent to 25 percent of families. And, while the rising number of married breadwinner moms reflects society's increasing opportunities for women, the story told by the growth in single-mother-headed households is not so optimistic: Younger and less likely to hold a college degree, single mothers have far less earning potential than their married sisters. In fact, the median income for a single mother household is $23,000 -- just 28 percent of the income of one in which the female breadwinner is married, and less than half the median household income in America.

There are several reasons for the rise of breadwinner moms: Over the last few decades, marriage rates have declined, the number of women in the workplace has increased, and the number of women earning college degrees now outstrips the number of men doing so.

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Another reason is historical: The Great Recession of 2008 was, in many ways, a "mancession," with an outsized impact on male-dominated professions like manufacturing and construction. At the height of the recession, some estimates suggested that up to 80 percent of job losses hit men. And, while many of those men have since returned to work, a large number have moved on to a more traditionally female sphere: the home.

In 2011, advertising agency Allen and Gerritsen conducted a survey on household work patterns. Forty-four percent of the study's male respondents "stated that they have the sole responsibility for grocery shopping for their households." The same number claimed responsibility for non-grocery shopping. In the same study, 52 percent of male respondents reported that they shared responsibility for "transporting kids to activities" and "attending school meetings." Fifty percent reported that they shared responsibility for "helping kids with homework."

Advertisers aren't the only ones who have recognized the shift toward men at home and women at work: the Census Bureau reports that, between 1995 and 2011, the number of stay-at-home dads nearly tripled, from 64,000 to 176,000. In 2010, the Census notes, 17 percent of preschoolers were being cared for by their fathers while their mothers were at work.

This shift has already led to a major change in the way that marketers sell products. If Enjoli's bacon-bringer was the iconic face of female liberation in the 1970s, Huggies' 2012 "Dad Test" ads may have been one of the last gasps for the bumbling dad cliche of the 1990s and 2000s. The controversial campaign, which featured butterfingered fathers trying -- and failing -- to care for their children, provoked a major backlash as furious "Daddy Bloggers" took to the Internet with petitions and Facebook protests. As one critic wrote on Huggies' website, shortly before the company withdrew the ad campaign, "What is this, 1948?"

Following the backlash, Huggies rolled out a more dad-friendly campaign, a tactic that many other manufacturers (and retailers) have echoed. And, with more women in the office and men at home, this trend seems likely to continue. After all, with women bringing home the bacon and men frying it up in a pan, smart companies aren't going to risk angering either gender.

More Women Are Bringing Home the Bacon, but More Men Are Shopping for It

April 9 is Equal Pay Day, established in 1996 to highlight the earnings discrepancy between men and women in the United States. Across the country, women in full-time jobs make just 78.8 percent of what men in comparable positions make; Equal Pay Day marks how far into this year a woman would have to work to earn as much as a man did in 2012.

The wage gap varies depending on where you are in the country. Women in the Provo-Orem, Utah, metro area make just 61.6 percent of what men make; in Los Angeles, by contrast, they take home 91.4 percent of the pay of their male peers. To identify the cities that pay women the least, 24/7 Wall St. compared the median earnings for the past 12 months of both men and women who worked full-time in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. We also reviewed employment composition by sector. All data was for 2011, the most recent period available.

These are the cities where the wage gap is widest. 

Women's pay as pct. of men's: 73.1%
Median income for men: $61,412
Median income for women: $44,879

Seattle is one of the West Coast's biggest tech hubs, with companies such as Microsoft and Amazon.com among its top employers. Few major metropolitan areas have a larger proportion of workers in tech jobs than Seattle. In those sectors, pay for women was closer to that of men than most, with the median income for women 86.6% of men's income. Still, the difference is not unsubstantial, with men earning $12,644 more than their female counterparts. In other sectors, the disparity was worse. For example, in management positions, median earnings for men exceeded the median earnings for women by more than $26,000.
Women's pay as pct. of men's: 72.9%
Median income for men: $45,312
Median income for women: $33,048

As a state, Oklahoma's gender pay gap was wide. And in the state's second-largest metropolitan area, Tulsa, the gender pay gap was even worse. Barely 5% of Tulsa's 10,000 transportation workers were women. For those women, the median pay was just 56% of the men's pay. Nearly 10% of the region's full-time workers were in sales positions, with women accounting for 40% of those jobs. In 2011, men in sales positions earned a median of $22,155 more than their female counterparts, more than $5,000 greater than the national gap for such jobs.
Women's pay as pct. of men's: 72.1%
Median income for men: $72,202
Median income for women: $52,063

The median income for women in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area was more than $20,000 less than the median income of men in 2011. Western Connecticut employs many people in financial services. In Stamford, both UBS and RBS banks employ thousands of people, and countless hedge funds are also situated in the region. Yet there was a profound gap in pay equity between men and women in business and financial operations, with women earning a median of just 54.8% of the men's pay. In some fields, however, there was no apparent pay gap. In architecture and engineering occupations, women working full time earned a median of $85,227, actually slightly larger than the median pay for men.
Women's pay as pct. of men's: 71.9%
Median income for men: $47,031
Median income for women: $33,831

Known as the Air Capital of the World, Wichita's economy is based on aircraft manufacturers. Companies such as Cessna, Bombardier and Hawker Beechcraft have a large presence in the region and between them employ tens of thousands of workers. Nearly 10% of the metro area's economy is based on aircraft manufacturing and other types of production, with women accounting for 21.5% of those jobs. In 2011, women in manufacturing and production jobs earned a median of $28,471, while men earned a median of $46,804.

Women's pay as pct. of men's: 70.5%
Median income for men: $50,908
Median income for women: $35,907

The median earnings of women in Colorado Springs was about $35,900 in 2011, some $15,000 lower than the median income of men. The two largest private employers in the Colorado Springs area as of the summer of 2011 were Memorial Health System and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. While these employers provide work to many in the community, the pay gap in health services between men and women is significant. Women working in health diagnosing and as treating practitioners made just slightly more than half that of men in 2011, despite the fact that the sector is comprised of nearly 70% women. For health technologists and technicians, the gap was even more significant, with women earnings less than 35% of the pay that men earned.

Photo: Pasa47, Flickr.com

Women's pay as pct. of men's: 69.8%
Median income for men: $45,582
Median income for women: $31,820


The median earnings for women in the Palm Bay metropolitan area in 2011 who worked full time was less than 70% of that for men. The pay gap in the Palm Bay area actually bucks the trend in the state as a whole. In Florida, the median income for women was 83.8% that of men's, the sixth-smallest gap of all states. Nearly 3.7% of the population works in health support, a higher percentage than all but one other city. The pay gap in that field is very large. Women earned just over 55% the pay of men in 2011. One bright spot was in computer and mathematical occupations. Women earned a median income of more than $67,000, or approximately $3,900 more than the median wage for men.

Women's pay as pct. of men's: 69.3%
Median income for men: $51,037
Median income for women: $35,362

The median income for a woman working full time in Baton Rouge was nearly $16,000 less than the median income for a man. About 7.6% of the population works in the construction and extraction industry, the second-highest percentage of all metro areas measured. Many of these people are employed in chemical extraction. Chemical companies have a significant presence in Baton Rouge, with companies such as Dow Chemical, BASF and ExxonMobil's chemical unit among the largest employers in the region. In the construction and extraction industry, women earned just 52.4% of what men earned in 2011. Other fields where the pay gap between men and women in Baton Rouge was large include production, where the median income of women in 2011 was just 40.6% of the median income of men, and transportation, where women's earnings were just 42.8% that of men's.
Women's pay as pct. of men's: 68.6%
Median income for men: $47,318
Median income for women: $32,446

Lancaster is an industrial town. About 11.6% of all full-time, year-round jobs in the region are in the manufacturing industry, the third-highest percentage of the top 100 largest metropolitan areas. Major manufacturers in the region include Armstrong World Industries and R.R. Donnelly & Sons. The median income for women in the manufacturing industry was just 64.3% that of men's in 2011. The gap was even worse in other fields. In the transportation industry, the median income of women was just 43% that of men's in 2011, one of the widest pay gaps among the largest metropolitan areas in that field.
Women's pay as pct. of men's: 65.2%
Median income for men: $52,184
Median income for women: $34,018

Ogden-Clearfield was one of just two metro areas where the median income for women was less than two-thirds of that of men's. The median income for women was less than half the median income of men in many occupations. In the legal profession, women working full-time earned just 26.3% of what men earned, the biggest pay discrepancy of all metro areas in that field. Women working full time in personal care and service occupations earned just 40.3% of the pay that men did, again the largest pay discrepancy of all metro areas. Other jobs where women's median income was less than half that of men's include sales, health diagnosis and treatment, and transportation occupations.
Women's pay as pct. of men's: 61.6%
Median income for men: $51,692
Median income for women: $31,846

No metropolitan area had a greater pay disparity between men and women than Provo, where the median income in 2011 for men working full time was nearly $20,000 more than the median income for women. Women who worked in personal care and service occupations earned a median of just $18,590, or 44.3% of the earnings of their male counterparts. The pay gap was still vast even in higher-wage positions. Women working in business and financial operations earned just 57.8% of what men earned in 2011, one of the largest pay gaps in that field.
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Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings editor. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
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