More than Half of Women Are Now Primary Breadwinners

January 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

New news. It used to be that 40% of women in married households were the primary breadwinner. Now, more than half of American women are the primary breadwinners in their households and many of them are worried about financial matters. Results from the Center for American Progress show that 63% of mothers were primary, sole or co-breadwinners for their families. Sounds like good news?  Well, not so quick.

Sounds like good news? Well not so quick. The fact that women are bringing home a significant portion of their families’ incomes does not mean that there is gender parity in the workforce, nor does it mean that working parents and caregivers have the supports they need. Issues such as the gender wage gap and lack of policies such as universal paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and workplace flexibility still hold women back from reaching their full economic potential.

Families in the United States look different than they did a generation or two ago. Married couples today are less likely to have children than they were in the past, and single-parent households are also much more common. In 1974, a married couple headed 84% of all families with children, while in 2015, only about two-thirds, or 65.5%, of families with children were headed by a married couple. And from 1974 to 2015, the rate of families with children headed by a single mother nearly doubled—from 14.6% to 26.4%—while the rate of single fatherhood quadrupled from 1.4% to 8.1%.

Marketing to Women: The Gender Wage Gap

December 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

wage-gender-gapWomen on average make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.  If the gender wage gap were closed and women were paid equitably, it could have unbelievable impact to our economy.  This fact should not be too surprising to marketers.  The robust economy that we enjoyed from the 1970s through 2000s was fueled by the two-income household which allowed for time-saving appliances, two cars, vacations, larger homes and higher education.

Today, we need a different boost because of the large number of working women.  Women are now half of all workers on U.S payrolls, two-thirds of mothers are bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings, and 4 in 10 mothers are either the sole breadwinner (a single, working mother) or are bringing home as much or more than their spouse.

Economist Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, estimates that the stimulus effect of wage equality would grow the U.S. economy by at least three to four percentage points.  By comparison, the $800 billion economic stimulus package that Congress passed in 2009 to bail banks out of the recession is estimated to have grown the GDP by less than 1.5 percent overall. The growth estimate gets larger if you consider how many women would be drawn into the workforce is wages were increased.  

Oh, and don’t forget.  Women are more likely to stimulate the economy by spending the additional money we receive.  Because women are the chief purchasing officer for their families.

For more information on the gender wage gap, here’s a great infographic created by


Marketing to Moms: Moms Rule Literally!

August 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Have you read this year’s list of Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women?  Check it out –  eight of the top ten are moms, and the majority of women on the list have children.  And these women don’t just rule at home; they literally rule countries, Fortune 500 companies and entertainment.  Not only are they power brokers but they are making a difference in the world.

Most of these women are over 50 so they came up in a time when there was guilt in leaving home for a job.  Today 53.6% of the labor force is composed of women.  Some 40% of females (16 or older) work in management, professional and related occupations, compared with 34 percent of males.  And 55% of college students are women.  Almost all of the income growth in the United States since 1970 has come from women in the  workforce.  Seventy percent of American women with kids under eighteen are earning a paycheck while raising children.

As one of the 85.4 million mothers in the US, I admit I felt a small tinge of guilt about work from time to time over the years.  But one day my daughter gave me a gift.  She told me she was always proud of me and my career.  She said she felt I was a model for her and having a career was stimulating and interesting.

Marketers can learn from this.  When women work, it changes everything about their shopping behavior – where they shop, when they shop, what they shop for, and how they assess brands they purchase.  They need services, not just products.  They need extended hours and delivery options.  They need cars with cupholders that fit their coffee.  And they need curbside services.

This Forbes list of women is anything but dull.  Here’s the top 10 (Oprah is #11).  But for all of you out there who are in the workforce and raising great kids, I think you deserve to be on this list too:

1.  Angela Merkel.  Chancellor, Germany

2.  Hillary Clinton.  Secretary of State, United States

3.  Dilma Rousseff.  President, Brazil

4.  Melinda Gates.  Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

5.  Jill Abramson.  Executive Editor, New York Times Co.

6.  Sonia Gandhi.  President, Indian National Congress, India

7.  Michelle Obama.  First Lady, United States

8.  Christine Lagarde.  Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

9.  Janet Napolitano.  Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, United States

10.  Sheryl Sandberg.  COO, Facebook

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