We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, But…

Yesterday my MIL shocked me with her point of view “men’s jobs are more stable”. Irk? MIL and I have not always seen eye to eye, to be frank, we rarely see eye to eye, but I’ve always thought of her as a head strong, confident woman. This comment sounded so backwards, 1950s, good little housewife. I was immediately taken aback. Shocked. Stunned. And might I add a tat bit offended.

We decided that I would go back to school as a family. This has impacted our son and my husband, but the benefits will be for all of us. We’ve also planned hubby’s return to school, as well as the possibility of me completing a PhD. This is information that we’ve shared with family. So we were both surprised when MIL shared her opinion that I shouldn’t be working on my research if hubby has been asked if he’s able to travel for work. [I should also point out that it really was a question, not a request, demand or expectation.]

In the time since the comment, I’ve done some thinking. Questioning: how unstable is the role of women in the workforce? Is my situation unique? Or is MIL out of touch with the times?

Right now, the role of women in the workforce is more stable than many jobs held by men. Historically speaking, during recessions, women have been able to hold their jobs while the men have be the ones laid off. However, these women have been in part time or low paying jobs. My job is not part time, nor do I get paid differently than the men in my field. And to continue generalizing, men have been the wage earners; however, times are changing. More and more women are on pay scales at par with their male co-workers. But I am curious just how many women are in lesser employment conditions than their male counter-parts? A lot of that has to do with perception. Regardless, my husband and I are both in careers in which men and women get the same pay and the same benefits, and we’re both in female dominated positions.

MIL raised her son to cook, clean and be a caregiver. My husband enjoys cooking. He cleans, does laundry, cares for and nurtures our son. I was raised in a household were the men did none of this. In short, my up-bringing was typical (perhaps stereo-typical) in how the gender roles played out, my husband’s upbringing was quite forward thinking.

Perhaps the question that needs addressing is: how do we convince the older generations that men and women can be equal partners in bringing home the bacon as well as frying it up? And more important: how do we ensure that younger generations embrace this?

We’ve come a long way, Baby, but we’re only half way there.