But Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman writes that this version of 'equality' isn't quite what women were looking for:
In the winter of our economic discontent, women now hold more than 49 percent of jobs on the nation's payrolls. If we cross the 50 percent line...it will be because men are losing their jobs even faster than women.These are Goodman's observations of women in the workplace. So has anything changed on the home front? Sadly, no, as Goodman explains in the rest of her commentary, "Women's hard-won job 'equality' does not look especially equal."
This dubious equality is in large part an ongoing tale of two economies. Men tend to work in manufacturing and construction, areas that were the hardest and first hit. Women tend to work in jobs such as health care and education that haven't (yet) been as affected.
In the past year, eight out of 10 pink slips went to men. The unemployment rate for women is bad enough at 6.2 percent, up 2 percent since 2007. But the unemployment rate for men is 7.6 percent, up three points. Add to that the fact that more men stop looking for jobs. You not only have a near-equal number of women in the work force, you have a lot of women in formerly two-earner families who've become the breadwinners.
Breadwinners? Or should I say crustwinners. The other dubious part of this "equality" for families is that even if women fill half of the payroll jobs, they don't bring home half the paychecks. They still earn 78 cents for every male dollar. In two-worker households, husbands earn close to two-thirds of the income and usually hold the job with health insurance.
So women's work has been more stable but less profitable. And don't forget that the recession is still on. Women may yet catch up (or catch down) with men's job losses. They are especially vulnerable to cutbacks in state and local government, where they work in disproportionate numbers.
Related article: Study Finds Husbands Help Out More With Housework