Adrienne Gibbs highlights the effect of the receding economy on gender roles in working families in her article titled “After Layoffs, Couples Wrestle with Role Reversal.” The increase in layoffs as a result of the faltering economy is prevalent in male dominated sectors and Gibbs reports that this is forcing some couples out of traditional gender roles.

 The article profiles three couples as they struggle with the transition to a new family dynamic. As the men are laid off the women have been forced to become the primary breadwinners in families where this reversal is unprecedented.  This situation is unique because the stress this reversal places on their relationship does not solely come from financial pressures. The couples must also cope with the psychological issues that arise when one takes on a different gender role.

 As this article demonstrates the job market is in an uncertain place. Females entering job market under such conditions exemplify the need for job flexibility such as part-time and telecommuting options.

This situation also provides further evidence that our public and private policies regarding work and family responsibilities have not kept place with the realities of life today. For more on this important and timely issue, see our recent blog post, “For Obama Transition Team — A Work and Family Agenda.” 

 By Allie Keyser and Amy Merrill