What do you think when you hear the term 'female breadwinner'?
1. A rare situation
2. An aspiration
3. Or perhaps something we shouldn’t have to discuss in 2016?
It may surprise you to know that in the UK around a third of women in relationships are the main earners in their home, according to an IPPR think tank. This is a whopping rise of 80 per cent over the last 15 years.
Being the main earner is therefore no longer rare; it is an aspiration for some, and definitely worth talking about. Why? Because recent statistics circulated illustrate an increase in the likelihood of divorce, cheating and even erectile dysfunction as a result of the woman earning more. This has created a real backlash for the women who have taken this path, which is not always by choice.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, and there are positive signs that female breadwinners will not always be linked with the image of alpha female, emasculator of men, or shirker of motherly and homemaking responsibilities in the future.
Here are 5 signs that attitudes to female breadwinners are changing.
1. Stays at home dads are coming out of the closet
10 per cent of carers in the home are now male and that figure is set to rise. When men stride into the role of stay at home Dad, it enables his partner to focus on breadwinning and him an opportunity to play a strong role within the home.
2. Rise of real-life models
The increase in female role models in business, such as Laura Tennison founder of JoJo Maman Bebe and Karren Brady, who don’t profess to be domestic goddesses, is helpful for women who want to break the traditional mould. The more non-traditional roles and families are openly spoken about by those in the media, the easier it will be become for everyone else to do the same.
3. The new normal
The caring of children is slowly moving from a ‘women’s Issue’ to a ‘parenting issue’, with the rise of shared parental leave. This will help to alleviate the working mum guilt and enable men to not miss out on their children’s formative years. It is becoming the new normal to share childcare responsibilities.
4. We’re talking about it
In many articles about the experience of female breadwinners, you will find they mention feelings of shame, guilt and resentment. Women and men are now daring to have important conversations about money and their roles in and outside of the home and so removing these negative emotions. These are being replaced with freedom and a pioneering spirit to craft the life they want.
5. The female breadwinner pipeline
Generation Y men and women say that they will not care who the breadwinner is. Increasingly, women are more likely to take college degrees than their male counterparts, so the future appears to be set for female breadwinners and men to craft the lives they want.
We still have a long way to go. Women are still underpaid in the workplace, and still do the lionesses share of the caring and housework, but it looks hopeful that as the number of female breadwinners increase, men and women will find a way to make it work for them and their families.
Jenny Garrett is the Executive Coach and founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy. She’s also the author of Rocking Your Role, a how-to guide to success for female breadwinners.
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