Employed Dads at Home

Employed Dads at Home

shutterstock_226750003A thought to file under “let’s try to find a silver lining.”

Any minute now there may be more women in the workplace than men. As my colleague Catherine Rampell noted on the front page last week, the most recent calculations, from November of last year, showed women holding 49.1 percent of the nation’s jobs. Given the number of jobs the economy has hemorrhaged since then, the balance may have already shifted.

The change is caused as much by more women are entering the workplace as it is by the disproportionate percentage of men who are involuntarily leaving. As Rampell wrote:

The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction. Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work.

As Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress says: “Women are now bearing the burden — or the opportunity, one could say — of being breadwinners.”

Part of that “opportunity” might be more men at home with the children while women are at work. The number of stay-at-home dads has inched up steadily but microscopically in recent years, and it is still a far from typical household arrangement. One way to change a norm is to create a new one; men will only be comfortable staying home when more men are seen staying home.

It took World War II, and the absence of men, to get Rosie her first shot as a riveter. And, history shows, Rosie went right back home after G.I. Joe returned, and stayed there for a few decades. But the mental picture of what women can be had changed, and perhaps we will look back and see that one result of more men on playgrounds and in preschool story time in this economy was a new view of what a typical man might do with his day. READ MORE