Feminist Expectations:. Who Suffers from the Problem. That Has No Name?
he women’s movement for equal opportunity in the I 1960s spawned tremendous gains in educational
I achievement and labor-force participation. Not only..A» has women’s share of college enrollments increased (from 37 percent in i960 to 57 percent in 2002), they work harder at their studies than men and walk off with a disproportionate share of honors (which may complicate life when the time comes for finding a mate with equivalent educational achievement).1 Since the mid-1980s more bachelor’s and master’s degrees have been awarded annually to women than men. And women are increasingly going on to careers in high-status occupations, such as medicine, law, business, and higher education. These advances have been accompanied by a steady decline in women’s participation in the productive and reproductive labors of motherhood, as reflected in the shrinking size of families, reduced hours of household work, and in
creased outsourcing of child care and other services previously performed by stay-at-home mothers. As women’s labor has shifted from the home to the market, family life has been sold on work. How has this come about?
One reason often heard for the rise of two-earner families and the decline in family size is that nowadays it costs too much to raise two or more children on the average paycheck of a one-earner family. The high cost of living is real. Ask anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the price of what used to be called a bungalow—with two bedrooms—starts at around half a million dollars. In 1970 I paid $25,000 for my first home, a wooden two-bedroom one-and-a-half bath bungalow in the Berkeley hills. Seven years later it sold for $100,000. Needless to say, a professor’s salary did not increase by 400 percent in seven years. Today that bungalow would be advertised as a charming rustic house with a filtered view and go for more than $750,000.