Blogs > Stephanie Coontz > The Triumph of the Working Mother

Jun 2, 2013 7:23 pm

The Triumph of the Working Mother

My latest column in the New York Times:

FIFTY years ago, Betty Friedan made a startling prediction in her controversial best seller, “The Feminine Mystique.” If American housewives would embark on lifelong careers, she claimed, they would be happier and healthier, their marriages would be more satisfying, and their children would thrive.

At the time, experts believed that a married woman should work only to kill time while searching for a husband or to fill time after the children had left home. A wife who pursued a career was considered a maladjusted woman who would damage her marriage and her kids.

Today, with almost two-thirds of married mothers employed and women the sole or main breadwinner in 40 percent of households, according to a Pew study released Wednesday, we can test these competing points of view.

Ms. Friedan wins on the question of whether working improves women’s well-being. At all income levels, stay-at-home mothers report more sadness, anger, and episodes of diagnosed depression than their employed counterparts....

Read the rest here.

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