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Women & Money: Do More Women Want to Stay Home Now?

“Despite the fact that there are more young women in graduate [3] and undergraduate programs, the young bride is willing to give up her career for marriage and kids,” Susan Shapiro Barash says.

Barash teaches gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College, and is well known expert on gender. Her most recent book is The Nine Phases of Marriage: How to Make It, Break It, Keep It [4]. She points out that, for some women, the goal isn’t to advance their careers, but rather to to stay home. “They’re the children of Boomers. They have watched their mothers get divorced and hit glass ceilings,” Barash said.

Editor’s Note: This is part one of our week-long series Women & Money [5] – focusing on the challenges women face today. Sheryl Sandberg’s book,Lean In, and her subsequent media promotion blitz have inspired us to create this week’s series and we hope you’ll join us in discussing these important issues.

Instead, the new goal for the young, educated, and professional woman is to put the career on hold to have a family. While some young professionals might be interested in doing things more like their grandmothers than their mothers, though, Barash points out that it’s more of a choice: “The young career woman is making a choice. It’s a conscious decision, not a role put on them.”

Barash’s observations are borne out, at least to some degree, by a recent survey [6] cosponsored by ForbesWoman and TheBump.com. After surveying 1,000 women in the United States, the two entities found that 84% of working women aspire to stay home, and now consider staying home a luxury. That’s a far cry from the ideals of the last generation, which saw a push for more women in the workplace.

Not only that, but the survey found that 1/3 of the women who took the survey actually resent their partners sometimes because they aren’t making enough [7] for them to feel as though staying home is economically viable. Even though more than 10% of stay-at-homes regret deciding to give up their careers, it appears that a larger percentage of women wish they could stay home.

New Respect for Those Who Choose to Stay Home

“Finances look a little more traditional for Millennials,” Barash says. Even though many Millennials are putting off marriage [8] until they are older, once the decision to start a family is made, things might change. “More young women are saying, ‘You make the money, and I’ll stay home,'” Barash says.

But, since it’s a decision made by the couple as a unit, and not a situation forced by tradition, things can be a little more comfortable. “It is all discussed and computed,” Barash says. “There’s new respect for the women who stays home, empowered in her decision. It’s very new and very Millennial.”

Of course, this situation applies mainly to those who can afford to stay home [9]. The young professional who finishes her degree and has a few years working in a career has a start on earning money, as well as skills and experience. “Many of these young women feel very confident that a career will be waiting for them later,” Barash says. “That remains to be seen.”

With the later marriage age, there is a better chance that a couple makes enough money to afford to lose one of the incomes, since they have both had a few years in the workforce, and time to save up.

What do you think? Do you think there is a throwback to women wanting to stay home? And is it feasible for a single income family to make it today?

(Photo: Ava Lowery [10])