CNN article on dual careers...
giner at my-deja.com
Wed Jun 14 02:27:34 EST 2000
Below is an article from the CNN web site, about the 'trailing spouse'
syndrome, and how, when kids arrive, the women's career often takes a
back seat. What do you all think of this? Being childless, and having
dragged my husband around the country while pursuing my career I really
don't have any personal insight as to why this occurs.
Mom's career sacrifice
Study: women yield ambitions when children come to two-career couples
By Haya El Nasser
June 9, 2000: 10:13 a.m. ET
NEW YORK (womenconnect.com) - For working women who believe they have
greater latitude to pursue their careers now that working men generally
are more active parents, a new study offers this disturbing finding: Add
a child to a two-career couple, and the woman is almost always the one to
scale back career ambitions.
Thomas J. Cooke, an assistant professor of geography at the University of
Connecticut, followed the moves and career paths of 158 couples from 1988
to 1992. The couples were between the ages of 25 and 40. Some women were
doctors and MBAs; others were in more traditional "women's jobs" such as
nursing or teaching. Cooke found that when the couples did not have kids
in tow, any move to another city usually benefited both spouses'
careers. But as soon as the couple had children, moving usually meant a
promotion for the husband and a setback for the wife's career.
Cooke calls it the "trailing mother" effect. "Once you have children,
people's gender identities come in to play," Cooke says."Women and men
start thinking about roles they've been taught. It becomes harder for
families not to fall into traditional roles."
The first year of the study, 48.7 percent of the wives were in
professional jobs. Five years later, as the percentage of the women who
became mothers more than tripled, only 39.2 percent remained in
professional positions. Overall, 86.7 percent of the women were working
at the start. By 1992, only 79.1 percent were employed. The percentage
of couples who had moved went from 5.1 percent the first year to 18.4
percent the last. "For non-mothers, there's no impact to moving," Cooke
says. "Then they have a child and the old stereotypes come out. When
children are on the scene, everything goes out of the window. Women's
commitment to the labor force drops significantly."
Another study Cooke conducted along with British researchers shows
similar patterns. Based on census data on both sides of the Atlantic, the
study found that moving almost always is a plus for the husbands, not the
wives. In a highly-mobile country where moving from place to place
usually is associated with betterment -- whether it be economic or
quality-of-life improvements -- the research is significant because it
indicates that women's career ambitions still are not a big part of
"Think about how often Americans move and the number of dual-career
couples there are and how often women with careers continue to follow
their husbands," Cooke says. Cooke's research made him take a closer look
at his own family situation. His wife, Carmen Yiamouyiannis, is a
physiologist. They were in graduate school together and already had three
children by the time they graduated. They made what seemed to be a
carefully crafted joint decision six years ago: whoever got the best job
offer, the other would follow. Cooke won. Yiamouyiannis followed.
Cook says his wife has worked since, but has made career sacrifices for
the sake of the children. For example, she took a job at a community
college rather than the University of Connecticut Medical Center because
she would have more freedom to spend time with the kids, now ages 11, 9,
Cooke, 37, says he does his share of playing "Mr. Mom" -- but his career
hasn't taken a back seat. By contrast, his wife, 36, stopped pursuing
time-consuming research in her professional field. Still, Cooke says,
it's a situation his wife chose.
Or did she?
"All along I thought we had reached these decisions by consensus," Cooke
says. "I thought it was something she wanted to do. But about a year ago
she said, 'Who else is going to be in charge of the household? Somebody
has to do this.' I never thought there might be something better she
might want to do." To delve into why even highly educated, ambitious
women tend to slip into more traditional roles as soon as they become
mothers, Cooke has launched another study funded by the Alfred P. Sloane
Foundation. He is following 13 Boston couples over a period of time and
interviewing husbands and wives separately about moving and career
He says he hopes the study will shed some light on whether women choose
parenting over career goals because they really want to or because of
societal pressures. He suspects that even women who say they wanted to do
this for their children, and say that their husbands never pressured
them, could turn out to have done it because they thought they would be
lousy wives and mothers if they didn't.
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