The Future Face Of Family Breadwinner: A Woman?

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The "Leave It To Beaver" depiction of a male breadwinner may soon become a relic of old sitcoms.

According to a new study, subject of this week's Time magazine cover story, women are on pace to outearn their husbands in the future.

Forty percent of wives currently make more than their husbands, while single women 30 and under without children outright outearn their male counterparts. That statistic is of most interest to experts, who say it indicates the very real possibility that the current crop of 20-somethings could become the breadwinners in their future marriages, potentially paving the way for future generations of women to continue taking on that role.

Liza Mundy, who wrote the Time article, says the shift in earning power was initially prompted by the birth control pill, which allowed women to delay marriage and childbearing to pursue education and careers. With the doors to higher education swung wide open, Mundy says, women took full advantage, now earning the majority of degrees across the board, from bachelor's to doctorates.

Mundy sees the shift not as a threat to traditional masculinity, but something that could allow both men and women the opportunity to adopt the full spectrum of roles available--domestic and professional--rather than being combined to separate spheres.

It will "broaden the definition of masculinity," she says, speculating that the definition will include "cooking as well as hunting, child care as well as golf."

There are still barriers to women's financial ascendance; women still only make 81 cents to every dollar a man earns. Some research shows as much as a 40 percent pay gap between men and women with business school degrees 10 years out of graduate school.

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