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Women in workforce here to stay
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"Have these men lost their minds?"
That question was posed by Fox News commentator Greta Van Susteren after a panel of her male colleagues bemoaned a new report by the Pew Research Center documenting the rise of "breadwinner moms." Women are now the primary earner in 40 percent of households with children, up from 11 percent 50 years ago.
"When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society ... the male typically is the dominant role," fulminated Erick Erickson. "The female ... it's a complementary role."
Juan Williams chimed in that "something is going terribly wrong in American society, and it's hurting our children, and it's going to have impact for generations to come."
The answer to Van Susteren's question is clearly "yes." These men are detached from reality in a whole bunch of ways. The growing power and influence of women at every level of society is simply irreversible and there's only one response any sane male should follow: Deal with it. And celebrate.
Kim Parker, a co-author of the Pew study, put it this way: "The rise of breadwinner moms highlights the fact that not only are more mothers balancing work and family these days, but the economic contributions mothers are making to their households have grown immensely."
That "dramatic transformation" certainly involves costs as well as benefits. The "balancing of work and family" is a source of constant conversation and consternation in every family, including ours. But the answer lies in adjusting to the real world of the future, not pining for a lost paradise.
Employers and workplaces must accommodate these "breadwinner moms" with more flexible schedules, telecommuting, paternity leaves and new measures of professional progress. Staying in the office every night till 10 just does not cut it anymore.
Personal adjustments are also needed -- family by family, ego by ego -- as women enhance their earning power. Megyn Kelly, a Fox News host now pregnant with her third child, excoriated Erickson for his unhinged analysis: "What's unstable about having a working mother and a nurturing, stay-at-home father?"
It's not just individual families who need "breadwinner moms." The rest of us do, too. About 57 percent of all college students today are women. Two years ago, the number of women with graduate degrees outpaced men for the first time. A healthy economy has to embrace this trend and utilize this talent.
For the first time in this Congress, 20 of the 100 senators are women and they include many powerful committee chairs. Of course, even 20 percent is still woefully low. Said former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, "We have to kick open the door and make our own environment."
She's right, and every "breadwinner mom" is giving that door a little kick of her own. The men who think they can stop them have truly lost their minds.
Steve and Cokie Roberts can be contacted by email at