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Female breadwinners are a sign of progress - not an affront to science


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Fox Business throws out everything science has told us.


U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943.

According to a new Pew poll, women are the primary source of income in forty percent of all households with children. In 1960, mothers were the primary breadwinners in just 11 percent of households.

Most rational people would see these findings as progress, since they suggest that women are no longer bound by the traditional gender stereotypes that have long kept them out of the workforce. They are an indication that gender equality is making strides in the right direction. At the very least, there’s no reason women with families shouldn’t have successful careers—right?

Not according to the (note: all male) commentators from Fox Business. In their

, the hits come early and often. In his opening summary of the research, Lou Dobbs says the Pew study finds “that women have become the breadwinners in this country, and a lot of other concerning and troubling statistics.”

Here’s a quick recap of their argument, in case you don’t want to suffer through the clip: working women are “hurting our children” and contributing to “the disintegration of marriage” by “competing” with their husbands.

But Erick Erickson’s comments on the topic are even more absurd (if that's possible). “Liberals who defend this and say it’s not a bad thing are very anti-science,” he says. “When you look at biology, look at the natural world—the roles of a male and a female in society in other animals—the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role.”

I’m the first to advocate that we look to nature to help make sense of the world around us, but we have to make sure we are looking at the right things. We don’t look to nature for rules and absolutes to dictate our behavior; instead, we find the flexibility that other species are capable of and the broad range of problems that evolution has solved. From bioinspired materials to the incredible ways animals thrive in tough environments, using science to understand the natural world should open our minds, not close them.

But at the same time, we aren’t seahorses, albatrosses, or bears; we’re humans. And some of the hallmarks of human culture are ethics, morals, personal responsibility, and the ability to evaluate our own behavior. By Erickson’s argument, we could—and perhaps even should—condone murder, theft, rape, and promiscuity, since animals engage in these behaviors with reckless abandon. But we don’t. While we owe some of our behavior to evolution, we aren’t bound by it.

As is often the case with biased political commentary, the Fox Business panel doesn’t even seem to have read the poll. Erickson claims that “three-quarters of the people surveyed recognize that having moms as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage, and reality shows us that’s the truth.” In reality, what three-quarters of the respondents said is that having women work has made it harder for parents to raise children. However, the participants also made it resoundingly clear that female breadwinners are not “bad for marriage.” When asked whether they think that it is better for a marriage when a husband earns more than his wife, a whopping 63 percent of respondents disagreed.

There’s little legitimate evidence that female breadwinners—or even working moms—are harmful to families. In fact, mothers who work benefit families in several ways: the children of employed moms tend to have fewer behavioral problems and do better in school, and both parents tend to spend more time playing with their kids and helping with their homework in homes where the mother works.

Moreover, the Pew study finds that families in which females are the primary breadwinner actually tend to be better off financially. In households where the mother is the primary source of money, the median family income is about $80,000. Households where the father is the primary breadwinner average about $2,000 less per year, and households where the spouses' income is the same average about $10,000 less.

Juan Williams laments that hard economic times have brought about this “disintegration of marriage,” claiming that men were hit harder by the recession than women were. And there’s actually some evidence to back this up (at least the latter claim). Research has suggested that financial trouble may drive the trend of female breadwinners, and a 2012 Pew study found that mothers’ views about whether (and how much) they should work have changed significantly since 2007, when the recession began. In other words, females are stepping up and joining the workforce to provide for their families in a hurting economy.

So if this issue has anything at all to do with science, it backs up what we see in nature. In the natural world, selection occurs at the individual level, meaning that animals must behave in their own best interest in order to survive and reproduce. If Erickson wants to look to animals and stereotypes about conventional sex roles, females are doing just as nature intended: they’re doing what they can to ensure the survival of their offspring when times are lean. These are the females—and the offspring—that thrive and contribute to future generations.

Williams concludes his tirade by warning that this trend “is going to have an impact for generations to come.” I, for one, hope he’s right. Because seeing a growing number of female breadwinners is going to show our daughters that they, too, can have rewarding careers. It’s going to teach our sons that women are productive and valuable members of society. And, of course, it’s going to continue to send closed-minded, misogynistic political commentators into a blind and idiotic panic.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Female moderator hmmm.... :rolleyes: :lol: :wub:

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