If you were a woman reading this magazine 40 years ago, the odds were good that your husband provided the money to buy it. That you voted the same way he did. That if you got breast cancer, he might be asked to sign the form authorizing a mastectomy. That your son was heading to college but not your daughter. That your boss, if you had a job, could explain that he was paying you less because, after all, you were probably working just for pocket money.
It’s funny how things change slowly, until the day we realize they’ve changed completely. It’s expected that by the end of the year, for the first time in history the majority of workers in the U.S. will be women ”” largely because the downturn has hit men so hard. This is an extraordinary change in a single generation, and it is gathering speed: the growth prospects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are in typically female jobs like nursing, retail and customer service. More and more women are the primary breadwinner in their household (almost 40%) or are providing essential income for the family’s bottom line. Their buying power has never been greater ”” and their choices have seldom been harder.
It is in this context that the Rockefeller Foundation, in collaboration with TIME, conducted a landmark survey of gender issues to assess how individual Americans are reacting. Is the battle of the sexes really over, and if so, did anyone win? How do men now view female power? How much resentment or confusion or gratitude is there for the forces that have rearranged family life, rewired the economy and reinvented gender roles? And what, if anything, does everyone agree needs to happen to make all this work? The study found that men and women were in broad agreement about what matters most to them; gone is the notion that women’s rise comes at men’s expense. As the Old Economy dissolves and pressures on working parents grow, they share their fears about what this means for their children and their frustration with institutions that refuse to admit how much has changed. In the new age, the battles we fight together are the ones that define us.
Read it all.