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April 2, 2014 — “Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”

From President Barack Obama saying it during his last campaign to the plethora of women’s groups that remind us, the gender wage gap issue is a hot topic. And it’s about to become even hotter once again on April 9, Equal Pay Day — which is just around the corner. It’s a statistic that I’ve heard over and over and over again. The “77 cents” statistic reminds me that women still have some work to do when proving that we are just as equal as our male counterparts.

However, here’s a statistic that women can get excited about – that even though we may be getting paid only 77 cents to every dollar, our 77 cents can not be simply pushed aside or ignored. According to an article in Forbes, the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies has increased by 65 percent in the last three years. As of October of 2013, there were 22 female CEOs on the list across sectors. Also, it’s important to note, the success for women is not just happening in the boardrooms.  Whether it’s from the corner office or the cubicle, women are becoming more and more the breadwinners for the household.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 40% of households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income. The breadwinner moms comprise  two very different groups: 1) 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands and 2) 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers. The study continues to state that the growth of breadwinning moms in these two groups correlates to women’s increasing presence in the workplace.  Women make up nearly half (47%) of the U.S. labor force today. Also, the employment rate of married women with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.

While the Pew Research Center study doesn’t closely examine the impact of the recent recession, an article from MSN does provide a correlation between the economic crash the nation experience in 2008 and the rise of women as the primary breadwinners for the household — despite the gender wage gap.  As a result of this rising trend of women “bringing home the bacon,” some men’s egos have become bruised, while other men have taken the opportunity to take back more of the responsibilities around the house and to connect more with their children.

So what does this rising trend of women becoming the primary breadwinners of the household mean for those of us involved in the world of marketing? In some households, the traditional roles of the stay-at-home mom and breadwinning father have switched entirely. With more women perhaps driving the Mercedes to work and men driving the minivan, will the advertising that we develop reflect more of this cultural trend? Will we see men playing more of the role as the decision-makers of the household? Or will our marketing have to cater more to the woman as she takes on the role as the primary decision-maker in the boardroom and at home?


Sources: Forbes, MSN (Money), Pew Research (Social & Demographic Trends)

Ashley–Harrington Andrews About the Author
Ashley–Harrington Andrews Former Account Supervisor, PR and Social Influence

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