The results of this survey took us by surprise.
We'd like to think that with each passing generation, we evolve closer to a society where all people are considered equal. You know, a magical place where it's totally normal for men to stay home to care for their children, and for women to go out and be big-time breadwinners and CEOs.
Well, in a recent report from the Council on Contemporary Families, researchers analyzed data from an annual survey that monitored high school seniors’ attitudes toward gender relationships since 1977.
The survey asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements such as, “It is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family,” and “The husband should make all the important decisions in the family."
Unfortunately, they found that both men and women aged 18 to 25 are less supportive of egalitarian households than people that age were 20 years ago. No, we're not kidding: In 1994, just 44 percent of high school seniors agreed that men should be the primary money-makers, but by 2014, 58 percent agreed.
Similarly, 30 percent of 18-year-olds agreed that guys shoud be making all the family decisions in ’94, but by 2014, 40 percent thought this was a legit way to run a household.
But here's where things get confusing: When it comes to women’s roles in the workplace, outside the context of a relationship, the students' attitudes continued to be pretty darn progressive.
In 1994, 91 percent of high school seniors agreed that “women should be considered as seriously as men for jobs as executives or politicians,” and that number remained steadfast two decades later. A majority of students also agreed that “a woman should have exactly the same job opportunities as a man” in the '90s as well as in 2014.
Essentially, a majority of young people today think that men should be the breadwinners, but women should be able to pursue the same opportunities as dudes, according to the study. What?!
Researchers hypothesize that these views could stem from the fact that while our culture may support a woman's choice to be either a stay-at-home mom ora working mom, our society also tends to celebrate men and women for different skills (you know: women are the nurterers; men are the breadwinners).
The work that’s left at hand is to create an environment in which we all can feel like a family is equally well off if a man stays at home or if both parents work. How do we make this happen? Well, creating policies in the workplace that are family-friendly like paid parental leave would be a start.